The Baltimore Orioles extended their season Thursday night by winning game four of the divisional series with the mighty New York Yankees. The Orioles outlasted the Yankees in a 13 inning game 2-1, winning in dramatic fashion, in what has come to be their style in 2012.
After losing a heartbreaking game three to a Raul Ibanez extra-inning walk-off in New York, the Orioles bounced back and got their clutch back in game four. Before J.J. Hardy knocked in the game-winning RBI in the top of the 13th inning to even the series at two games apiece, the Orioles had struggled with runners in scoring position, going 0-8 on the night. For a team that has prided itself on being able to come through when it matters most, the fact that they were hitless with RISP was certainly a bad sign as the game entered the early morning hours.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunities to score runs,” Hardy said in an ESPN.com article. “So when they are those opportunities, I think we’re trying a little bit too hard.”
Baltimore’s postseason inexperience has reared its head in the series at times, but they have continued to do what they’ve done all year; find ways to win.
“We just kept telling ourselves, ‘This is not the last night of the season,’” Hardy said.
Now after 22 meetings between Baltimore and New York in 2012, each team is 11-11. It’s all square and one more game will determine who goes home and who moves on with seasons on the line tonight in game five.
One thing is for sure. The Yankees have been here plenty of times before. Not just in years past, but even the 2012 squad has battled and mostly prevailed with clutch performances in big games.
“Well, it’s kind of what we’ve been used to all year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s been a grind. It’s been a fight to stay ahead of this club the whole year. So it’s pretty fitting.”
The Yankees will rely on ace C.C. Sabathia in game five. Sabathia, the winning pitcher in game one of the series, went 15-6 with a 3.38 ERA during the regular season and will look to end Baltimore’s tonight. The Orioles will counter with Jason Hammel, who ended the 2012 regular season with an 8-6 record and a 3.43 ERA. Hammel also started game one of the series, leaving with a no-decision in the Orioles eventual 7-2 loss.
The Yankees obviously have the edge in the pitching matchup, but may be shorthanded in the bullpen as Joba Chamberlain left last night’s game in the 12th inning after being struck in the elbow by shards of a broken bat. His status for game five is uncertain, but if Sabathia pitches as well as he is capable of, Chamberlain may not be needed.
It’s been a fantastic season for the Orioles and they’ve been a great story, but the Yankees are the Yankees for a reason. Game five is their time to rise up and reign victorious, which they will likely do on the shoulders of a great pitcher like Sabathia. Sabathia won the first time in this series and I expect him to win again. Take New York to win tonight and advance.