The Orioles most memorable season in a decade and a half—and maybe ever—cam to a halt Friday night at Yankee Stadium as the Orioles lost 3-1 to CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees. The Orioles, resilient to the end, simply could not generate enough offense to keep their season going.
Again Friday, pitching was front and center. Sabathia (2-0 in the series) completed the game, allowing just six baserunners (4H, 2BB), and was really only in trouble at one time. The Orioles put together a promising looking rally in the eighth, loading the bases with just one out.
Matt Wieters led off with a single, moved to second on a Manny Machado walk, and scored one out later on a single from Lew Ford. When Robert Andino reached on a comebacker that Sabathia was indecisive about, the bases were filled with Orioles. Then, Sabathia became Sabathia.
Nate McLouth struck out swinging for out number two, and JJ Hardy continued his offensive misery (just .136 in the series) with a slow bounce out to Derek Jeter.
Of course, by the time we reached the eighth, the Yankees already led 3-0. It didn’t appear that would be the case early on. O’s starter Jason Hammel (L, 0-1) was again terrific, taking a perfect game into the fifth. Mark Teixeira broke it up with a single to right leading off inning number five. With Mark Reynolds not holding him and Jason Hammel not paying much attention to him, Teixeira stole second base. It was a surprising move for Teixeira, already slow afoot, AND hobble by a calf injury. But it would turn out to be an enormous play.
Next up, Raul Ibanez’s roller toward second found its way past the diving Andino and into center for a hit, scoring Teixeira for a 1-0 Yankees lead. Hammel got Nick Swisher on a big 6-4-3 double play, though, and what looked like the start of a big inning was minimized to just the one run.
The O’s though they’d tied it in the sixth. With two outs, McLouth blasted a 3-1, 93 MPH fastball deep into right field, directly down the line. The ball was initially ruled foul, but Buck Showalter came out to argue, asking the umpires to review the call. They did, and the play stood as called. Replays showed the ball definitely coming down on the foul side of the foul pole, but there was some question as to whether or not the ball hit clipped the pole. As it turned out, it was simply a long, loud strike, making the count full. McLouth swung through a tough slider next, striking out for out number three.
With one out in the bottom of the bottom of the sixth, Hammel walked Jeter. Next, Ichiro ripped the first pitch of his at-bat, a 91 MPH fastball in a poor location, off the wall in right center. Jeter scored, making it 2-0. Hammel got Robinson Cano on strikes, intentionally walked Teixeira, and was lifted for Troy Patton. The move set up a lefty-lefty matchup against the Yankees hottest hitter in Ibanez. Patton won the battle, getting Ibanez to chase a 77 MPH curve in the dirt. But the Yankees would not allow the O’s lefty to leave without a big blemish.
Patton fanned Swisher to start the seventh. Next up, it was another lefthanded hitter in the struggling Curtis Granderson. Patton hung an 81 MPH slider on a 2-1 pitch, and Granderson turned on it, parking a long home run into the second deck for his first homer of the series. The lead grew to 3-0, and all of Orioles Nation had to know, with Sabathia on the hill facing an ice-cold offense, it was going to be tough to come back. The Orioles were in a spot where they had to score at least three runs before the big lefty recorded six outs. It did not come to pass.
So the magical season, which began with a Jake Arrieta win over Minnesota, and featured so many amazing feats (a 16-game season from Nolan Reimold, who looked like the league MVP in those two-plus weeks; a win out of the bullpen for Chris Davis in a 17-inning affair in Boston; the breakthrough season for Adam Jones, who was rewarded with a long term deal; dramatic late inning heroics from everyone from Jones to Taylor Tegarden; a 51-save season from Jim Johnson, anchoring an absolutely shut-down bullpen; 16 extra-inning wins in a row, etc, etc, etc), all combining to give the Baltimore Orioles their first playoff appearance—heck, their first winning season—since 1997, is over. What an amazing, incredible, unthinkable ride. Anyone else wishing 2013 could start next week?