Radhames Liz was called back up from the minors and thrown right into the fire against the New York Yankees. I'll set the over/under on walks by Liz at 4.5. The guy has a live arm, but I don't have a lot of confidence in him as a major-leaguer yet.
Johnny Damon gets ahead 2-1 but doesn't walk. Instead, he doubles into the corner in right. Cap'n Jeter bloops a single off of Brian Roberts' glove in short center and the Yankees have runners on the corners - not the best start for Liz. Bobby Abreu takes some awkward swings on a couple Liz fastballs, but then adjusts and pulls one through the hole on the right side for an RBI single. A-Rod continues his un-clutch season, grounding to Mora who starts the 5-4-3 double play. Giambi and his 'stache take a 3-1 change-up for a strike, and then Liz comes back to throw a fastball by him for the K. Though it's 1-0 New York, Liz wasn't bad in the inning.
Brian Roberts singles to left to start the O's attack. And then easily steals second. Mike Mussina teaches Nick Markakis something, dropping in a curve for strike one, and fastball on the inside corner for strike two, and then after missing further inside with a second heater, gets him swinging on another curveball. That's vintage Moose. After Melvin lines out to left, Huff comes through yet again with a bouncing single passed a diving Cano at second to tie the game at 1-1. Millar pulls a single just off of Jeter's glove - the middle-infield defense for the Yankees isn't very good. Actually, the outfield defense isn't really either (especially Abreu, who's awful). Luke Scott grounds out, but the O's and Yank's have matching three-hit, one-run innings.
Xavier Nady goes down looking at a 3-2 slider. I like that Liz is willing to throw any pitch in any count, but that strategy would work way better if he could throw those pitches for strikes. Matsui doesn't chase any two-strike pitches and draws a walk. That's one. Liz gets ahead of Cano 0-2 but can't put him away. His single to right brings up Jose Molina. No problem putting him away, as Liz gets him swinging on a slider bouncing in the other batter's box. Ramon has a high fastball go off his glove as he makes only a half-hearted attempt at it. No damage done though, as Damon pops to Millar and leaves a couple on.
1-2-3 go the Birds in the second. I really enjoy watching Mussina pitch. The catcher puts up the glove and Moose throws a fastball right to it. Curveballs dropping in for strikes, varying arm angles - it's not Maddux in his prime but it ain't half bad.
Abreu hits a one-out single up the middle, but gets thrown out trying to steal after A-Rod swings through a high fastball. The generous zone from the plate ump isn't hurting, but Liz is looking pretty good.
Great battle between Mussina and Markakis. Moose starts him off with another curve for strike one, and then a second on a 3-1 count (though Nick started towards first). On 3-2 kakes lines a fastball into center for a single. Mora reaches out and hooks a slider into left for a single. Huff almost takes out an umpire with his line-drive single up the middle. Nick comes around to score and the O's lead 2-1.
The Giambino is first-pitch swinging and ropes and single to right. Unfortunately for him, Giambi wanted to make it a double and his horribly awkward slide took him off the base where Roberts applied the tag. A flyout and a grounder to first on which Millar makes a nice play end the inning. [Brian Matusz is being interviewed in the booth - he seems like a pretty smart guy. When Tillman was interviewed he sounded like a bit of a block-head. I will reserve judgment until there's a larger sample-size, and frankly I don't care as long as he puts up zeroes on the mound. Say what you will about me, but part of why I like Mussina is because he's really bright off the mound. Well, and on the mound.]
Ramon... deep and gone. A laser-beam into the left-field seats makes it 3-1. Can't leave 86 mph fastballs in the middle of the plate. Payton lines a pitch up the middle, but Mussina displays those Gold Glove skillz (sorry; skills), snagging it for the out. Castro takes a slider on the outside corner for the third out, and isn't too pleased about it.
Robbie Cano crushes a high fastball to DEEP right. Onto Eutaw street. Wow. Jose Molina doesn't crush one, but it still clears the right-field fence. Hanging slider and just like that the lead is gone. Abreu singles with two outs, and that'll end Liz's night. He only walked one and K'ed four, but gave up 9 hits and the two homers. I thought he was pretty good - if he had only given up 5 hits instead of the 9, would Trembley have left him out there? He did throw 83 pitches though. Dennis Sarfate comes in and gets A-Rod to end the scoring.
Round three of Markakis vs. Mussina goes to the latter, who gets Nick looking on a slider at the knees. Three-up, three-down go the Birds in the fifth.
Sarfate blows Giambi away with a fastball in the middle of the strike-zone. Man, I missed that while he was in the rotation. Then he blows Nady away. I think it's clear what Sarfate's role on the team should be. Matsui walks, but a flyout to center ends the inning.
[On the broadcast, they are comparing Mike Mussina to Jim Palmer. I have made the point before that, context considered, Palmer wasn't really a much better pitcher (if at all). K/BB? 1.7 for Palmer and 3.6 for Moose. FIP? 3.50 for Palmer and 3.58 for Mussina. That Mike needs to win 20 games this year to maybe get into the Hall of Fame is ridiculous.]
Huff lifts a flyball into the right-field corner, where Bobby Abreu makes a great running catch. Abreu (and Damon) can't get to Millar's drive to right-center though, and it bounces over the fence for a double. Luke Scott singles into right to put runners on the corners. Ramon hits a hanging curveball to the track in deep left, but Nady is there. Millar comes in to score though, and the O's get the lead back.
[I missed a couple innings talking to a friend of mine. Apparently, he's now engaged. Crazy stuff (it wasn't a surprise to me, but there's the "holy crap, my friend is getting married" factor in there). Congratulations to Sean and Zoe, who are both awesome and make each other happy. I once heard, or read, that love is finding someone who's just the same kind of crazy that you are. I think that applies in this situation. Maybe eccentric would be better. In any case, I wish them the best, as well as all the other things people say to that kind of news.]
I'm not paying too much attention to the game now, but why not just bring Jim Johnson in in the eighth with two on and Nady coming up. Going to Kam Mickolio in his second career game just to preserve JJ's "role" as the current closer is stupid. No matter the results. First pitch bounces away from the plate and Abreu scores on the wild pitch. 4-4. Stupid. Nady singles through the drawn-in infield to make 5-4 Yankees. Now Trembley will take him out in favor of the lefty, Alberto Castillo, with Matsui coming up. Stupid. Not that Dave was the one throwing the pitches, but still.
Two home runs later it's 9-4, and that's the score the O's lose by. Sucks. Oh well, at least there was some good news from today.