GAME 9 : Masahiro Tanaka‘s Yankee Stadium debut started rough with some hard hit balls in the first, and one mistake pitch in the second that Oriole’s third baseman Jonathan Schoop lifted just inside the left field foul pole for a 3-run dinger. Similar to his first start in Toronto, Tanaka then settled in and held Baltimore scoreless over the next 5 innings, striking out 10, while walking only one. He fought through some tough at-bats, and continued to be unpredictable with pitch selection, keeping hitters off-balance. There was a good amount of swingin’ and missin’ once he got in a groove.
Down 3-0, the Yanks climbed right back in the bottom of the second with solo home runs from Carlos Beltran [video] (who went 3-3) and Kelly Johnson. In the 4th, after a leadoff Beltran double, a Brian McCann sac fly that moved Beltran to third, Alfonso Soriano grounded to second, as Beltran scored, tying the game at 3-3.
With a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the 8th, and put real pressure on the Birds, the Yanks couldn’t plate Brett Gardner from second with no outs. Gardy led off the frame with a double to the right field corner. Derek Jeter sacrificed him over to third, but neither Jacoby Ellsbury nor Brian McCann could get him in. After that, it fell apart.
The O’s opened the top of the 9th with four straight hits off of Shawn Kelly, including an RBI single from Nick Markakis, and a based-loaded sac fly from Crash Davis. 5-3 Orioles. Then things got interesting for a minute in the bottom of the 9th.
A lead off, stand-up double from Alfonso Soriano brought the Stadium crowd to life. Kelly Johnson followed with a liner over the first base bag that 1B Chris Davis couldn’t handle, Sori moving to third. Ichiro pinch runs for Johnson. Brian Johnson followed with a gritty AB, finally skying deep to right to score Soriano on sac fly, making it 5-4.
What seemed like a magic moment meant to be was extinguished in one pitch, as Yangervis Solarte was jammed and grounded into a game-ending double-play. Which begs the question — why not send pinch-runner Ichiro during Robert’s at-bat? If nothing else, to keep out of the double-play on both AB’s?
SCRANTON SHUTTLE : Austin Romine goes down, lefty pitcher Shane Greene comes up. Greene is a homegrown 15th round pick (2009) who hits the mid-90s on the gun.
NOTEBOOK : Even though catcher Brian McCann is yet to find his stroke at the plate, his work with the staff is getting high marks. Like someone we know who should be at first base every day, McCann is usually a slow starter who gets it going in late April or early May. Here’s hoping that’s accurate and it does not cost us any W’s in the meanwhile.
UP NEXT : The Boston Red Sox invade The Bronx for a 4-game series, kicking off with Michael Pineda squaring off against Clay (The Laptop Thief) Buchholz. 7:00PM EST and 4:00PM PT.