Friday, May 30, 2008

O's-Yankees, Missed Opportunities

Camden Yards (or Fenway South, as the Sox fans call it) host the first game of the four game series between Boston and the O's, with Daniel Cabrera facing Josh Beckett. Hopefully Daniel can bounce back for a poor start against the Rays.

Jacoby is very, very fast. He slices one to left and, even though Scott got to it quickly, made it into second with a double. Dustin Pedroia lays down a sac bunt (in the first?) and Daniel fields it cleanly and tosses to first for the out. I've been surprised how rarely batters have tested Cabrera, given his reputation (earned) of being a very poor fielder. David Ortiz lines one past a diving Bynum (playing where Roberts usually does) into right for an RBI single. Manny doubles to left, and the Sox have a big inning in the making. Mike Lowell puts a ride into one, but Scott tracks it down at the wall. Both runners tag, with Ortiz scoring to make it 2-0 Boston. Youkilis flies to Scott swell, to end the inning.

O's go down in order in the first.

With one out, Coco Crisp gets a two-base walk. I'm sure there will be lots of jokes about that tomorrow. Ball four was in the dirt and bounced away, and Crisp was able to get all the way to second before Ramon found it. Then he steals third pretty easily. Alex Cora tried to put down the suicide squeeze, but misses the ball. Crisp is dead-in-the-water between third and home, and Razor runs him down easily. Cora then gets drilled in the leg by a pitch. Daniel doesn't look like he has it today. Jacoby grounds to Roberts, who handles a tricky hop and throws him out.

Huff goes down looking to start the second. Millar gets the O's first baserunner, singling to left. Scott pulls the first pitch he sees past Youk at first for a single, with Millar going to third. Luke takes off on a 3-1 pitch, and Varitek's throw was off-line. Scott is safe, and Millar comes in to score to make it 2-1. Ramon grounds out to second. Adam Jones grounds sharply to first, but Youk shows why he won a Gold Glove, making a sliding catch and tosses to Beckett who just barely beats Jones to the bag. On replay actually, Beckett never touched the bag. Dave Trembley argued it, but that kind of thing is never overturned.

Ortiz ropes a one-out double over Nick's head in right to bring up Manny, who is sitting on 499 career home runs. Ramirez goes down swinging at a high fastball. Lowell grounds out to end the inning.

After Bynum strikes out on three pitches, Brian gets on via a Pedroia error. Mora strikes out swinging, as Roberts steals second. The throw beat him, but Pedroia couldn't apply the tag. Say what you will about runners distracting pitchers (and I have - I think it's mostly hoowie), but seeing the runner moving behind the pitcher probably does more to distract the hitter. Nick strikes out looking on a 3-2 fastball on the inside corner.

Cabrera has his first 1-2-3 inning, ending it with a K of Coco.

Aubrey Huff ties the game with a solo home run to right-center field. It was a first-pitch fastball on the outer half, and he just turned on it. That's all the O's get, but it's now 2-2.

Jacoby double into the right-field corner, but is left stranded. Daniel is using his breaking-ball and change-up more than I he has recently. It may be in response to not having command of his fastball tonight.

Dustin Pedroia has a very good defensive reputation (and from what I understand has backed it up) but hasn't looked too good tonight. Bynum hit one sharply at him, but he wasn't able to back-hand it and the ball went into right-field. Beckett K's Roberts and Mora to end the inning.

Manny hits one deep to center, but Jones is there to make the catch. Mike Lowell pulls a double down the third base line, but Melvin is able to get to a Youkilis grounder and throw him out. Daniel walks Varitek on five pitches, and looks visibly frustrated with the strike-zone. None of the pitches were that close, and Crisp does him a favor by expanding the zone and grounding to Roberts. Still a 2-2 game.

Nick goes down swinging again, on a fastball at 96 tailing off the plate away. Strike-out number nine is Aubrey Huff, unable to check his swing at a curve in the dirt. Millar draws a two-out walk to bring up Luke Scott. Scott follows suit, with a walk of his own. Razor coming up with two on and two out. Ramon runs the count full, and takes a high fastball to load the bases on Beckett's third consecutive walk. Adam Jones is coming up with a big chance to give the O's the lead. He has a pretty good at bat, but ends up striking out swinging at a fastball.

Jacoby is on again - he hit a grounder to third where Melvin gets it, spins, and hurries the throw past Millar at first. Ellsbury steals second, and then later third, but the Sox can't bring him in. Daniel is up to 113 pitches (just 64 for strikes) and so this may have been his last inning. At least it looks like Beckett is done too with 118 pitches and faltering control.

Hideki Okajima is in to face Freddie Bynum. Groundball to short results in the first out, with Roberts coming up. Brian singles to right-center and takes a big turn around first. Don't take too many risks here - bad baserunning has cost the O's enough runs this year. Mora flies out, and Nick strikes out again. Despite lots of chances on both sides, it's still a 2-2 game.

Jim Johnson is in the game, so we can close the book on Daniel. He didn't have his best stuff, but the 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K day doesn't look that bad. JJ gets Manny to pop out on the first pitch. Then he gets Lowell to pop one up, but it falls between three fielders in left-center for a single. Oh, but boy the the O's turn a nice double play to end the inning. Youk grounds up the middle; Bynum gets to it and flips to Roberts as he is falling backwards; Roberts catches it with his bare hand, touches second, and then throws to first. Very nice play.

The O's go down in order in the bottom of the eighth.

George Sherrill is coming in for the ninth - I like that Dave Trembley uses Sherrill in non-save but still high-leverage situations. If he's your best reliever, then that's how you're supposed to use him. With one out, Coco Crisp is called out looking on a 3-1 pitch. That is fantastic. Crisp actually thought it was a ball, and started to go to first. Jim Palmer is bringing up a comparison to Leslie Nielsen from Naked Gun, where he is the ump at the Angels game. I think it's apt. That's embarrassing to both the ump and the player. Anyway, Crisp ends up popping out and then pinch hitter Jeff Bailey goes down swinging.

Manny Delcarmen is in for Okajima. Razor hits a ball to deep center-field, but Crisp has plenty of room to make the catch. Jones strikes out swinging at a curve in the dirt. These Sow pitchers have some good stuff. Bynum grounds one past a diving Pedroia for a single - that turns the line-up over. Bynum steals second to put the winning run in scoring position. Roberts is behind in the count at 1-2, but it takes just a single to (probably) win the game. Brian battles back though, running the count full and fouling off a few pitches before taking ball four. Melvin Mora up now. A groundout ends the inning - it'll be extras once again for the Birds, with Matt Albers coming in.

Albers is looking really sharp tonight - he's keeping the ball low in the zone and has good break on the curveball. He retires the Sox in order, including getting Ortiz to ground out to Bynum at the second-base position.

Side-arming lefty Javier Lopez is in to face Markakis, who already has three K's on the day. His average is down to .246, and he hasn't looked good at the plate. Nick works the count to 3-1 and fists an inside fastball into short left-field for a single. Lopez gets Huff to flyout to center, and then is removed for Craig Henson. Millar grounds out to third, and with first base open, Luke will get the intentional pass. Ramon once again has a chance to put the O's on top. 3-2 count... and he goes down swinging. If the O's lose this game, there is going to be talk of all of the failed opportunities.

Manny pops out on the first pitch again - it's nice to have a guy like Albers who can go a few innings in the pen. Lowell flies out to right, and then Youk goes down swinging. Boston still has Papelbon out there, but I think the pen advantage shifts to the O's at this point.

The Orioles don't threaten in this inning, going down in order.

Albers is still in there, and he gets Tek swinging to start the 12th. Julio Lugo (in for Cora after Bailey pinch hit) draws a two-out walk, and Jacoby follows it with yet another hit. Ellsbury steals second without a throw, and Albers falls behind Pedroia 1-0. Dustin grounds to Mora, who avoids Ellsbury almost running right into him, and makes the throw to first. We go to the bottom of the 12th. Jeez.

Former Oriole Mike Timlin brings his 6.89 ERA into the game. At 42, Timlin is probably nearing the end of the road. Mora thinks he checks his swing on a 3-2 pitch, but he sure didn't (and the umpire calls him out). Kakes! Finally he hits one hard, lining a double past a diving Crisp in left-center. Huff gets the IBB, to bring Millar up. Timlin falls behind 2-0, and things are tense. Millar grounds one to short where Lugo bobbles the ball. Things look good, but Millar doesn't ran that hard to first and Lugo has time to throw him out. With first open again, Luke gets an IBB. Ramon up (again) with runners in scoring position. Razor shows bunt, but pulls the bat back - that reminds me of the game in Oakland that he won by beating out a bunt hit to drive in the winning run. A flyout to left ends the inning. So many men left on...

Albers is done after three very good innings, and Jamie Walker is coming in. My confidence level isn't high here. He gets Ortiz to pop up the ball in foul territory, but Ramon drops it. Not a good night for him. Ortiz ends up grounding out anyway. He will only face one batter, as Chad Bradford is coming in. Not a lot left in the pen - Dennis Sarfate and Lance Cormier. Manny is on, as Mora throws his groundball away. He's on second for Lowell. The error comes back to hurt, as a single to left brings Ramirez in to make it 3-2. Papelbon will be coming in. An infield single by Youkilis will end the day for Bradford. He got no outs and will be saddled with the loss baring an O's comeback. Sarfate coming in. He has a good K rate, but is walking too many - that's been his general profile and he's sticking to it. Lowell and Youk pull off a double steal - not something you usually see from those guys. Tek goes down swinging at a fastball at 97 up at the letters. Crisp hits what should be an inning ending groundball to short, but this time it's Bynum throwing it away. Two runs score, and it's 5-2 Boston. I'm gonna call this one, as the chances of the O's scoring 3 or more against Papelbon are extremely remote. Sarfate losses command, walking Lugo on four pitches and then starting Ellsbury off with a ball. Good move by Rick Kranitz to take a trip to the mound. Sarfate comes back to strike Jacoby out. Bottom of the 13th.

It looks like Adam Jones beats out an infield single, but is called out on a bang-bang play. Jay Payton hitting for Bynum - he swings at a 3-2 pitch a foot outside and obviously misses. Two outs. Roberts goes down looking to end it.

The O's lose 5-2. It was a game that they should have won, and the missed chances were painful to watch. The probabilities were in their favor, but they couldn't make it happen. A team like the Orioles can't beat a team like the Red Sox if they make so many mistakes.

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