instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

A Tumultuous End to April for my Orioles and Columbia Lions

The Orioles' first visit to NYC in 2017 was certainly eventful. The Friday and Sunday games will be ones remembered forever.

The weekend could have been a total washout and a sweep by the insanely hot Yankees who rallied from 9-1 and 11-4 deficits on Friday night to win 14-11 in 10 innings. Facing another devastating late inning loss on Sunday, the O's managed to hold on and win in eleven innings, 7-4.

On Friday night Kevin Gausman pitched four shutout innings in his first sustained good outing of the year and the Birds roared to a 9-1 lead. Mark Trumbo, MLB"S home run leader last year, contributed a grand slam, his first HR since he won on Opening Day with an extra-inning blast.

Two homers by powerhouse Yankee rookie right fielder Aaron Judge brought the Bronx Bombers closer at 9-4. The Orioles quickly responded to make it 11-4 as the game entered the bottom of the 7th.

After a dinky infield single, Bird manager Buck Showalter lifted Gausman for journeyman lefty reliever and former Yankee Vidal Nuno. It says here that Gausman's pitch count wasn't enormous and I wouldn't have lifted him. Of course, then there wouldn't have such drama.

Nuno showed why he has bounced from many teams by giving up a grand slam to Jacoby Ellsbury - the first ever for the former Bosox center fielder and the 100th of his career. Ellsbury may have an untradeable bloated contract but he is off to a good start as a veteran presence on a team that trends young.

It was now 11-8. Reliable Oriole relievers Mychal Givens and Darren O'Day restored order until the bottom of the 9th. The Oriole farm system gets a lot of criticism for its failure to produce many major leaguers but Givens is a great success story and tribute to Oriole player developers.

A former high draft pick/shortstop who never mastered hitting, Givens was converted to a hard-throwing semi-sidearmer. He is extremely effective against righthanded hitters and getting better against lefty batters. He also fields his position with the aplomb of a former shortstop.

On Friday night temporary closer Brad Brach was not up to the occasion. A local boy from Freehold NJ and Monmouth University, Brach committed the cardinal sin of walking the leadoff batter. Before long Yankee second baseman and former Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro belted a long HR to tie the game at 11-11.

Once the Orioles went down 1-2-3 in the 10th against Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman, I knew the game was probably over.

Yet being a baseball addict, I watched on my TV as rookie Jayson Aquino (being groomed as a starter) walked two in a row. After a strikeout of Chase Headley, a new Yankee the veteran Matt Holliday homered deep into right center for the victory.

After the game, Nuno and Aquino were optioned to the minor leagues and might not be back for a while esp. Nuno. Aquino is still a possible fifth starter for an extremely thin Orioles starting staff.

Saturday's day game was the one I attended in person and it fulfilled my worst expectations. Amazingly inconsistent Ubaldo Jimenez gave up two HRs to Yankee leadoff hitter Brett Gardner in the first two innings and it was quickly 5-0.

The game then followed the pattern that imperious Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert loved. Score a bunch of runs in the first inning and pull slowly ahead. Final score was 12-4 and it was never really a contest.

To give you a sense of the bad omens for the Orioles on Saturday, Chase Headley pulled a Manny Machado on Machado. The Orioles hot corner master smoked a ball down the left field line with double written all over it. (A cliche but a nice one IMHO).
Headley dove to his right and speared it as Machado looked on in astonishment.

There was a brief moment of hope when it was only 7-2 in top of the sixth with two men in scoring position and two out. Birds backup catcher Caleb Joseph was facing Yankee reliever Adam Warren. A single could make it 7-4, so I dreamed.

It was a great competitive AB for Joseph who fouled off a couple of pitches while bringing the count to 3-2. Alas, he struck out. His quest for his first RBI since 2015 had to wait.

Once the Yankees immediately answered those runs with a two-run HR by Yankee backup catcher Austin Romine, it was time to beat the crowd and head home.

A tip of the cap to Romine. Like Joseph he is a longtime minor leaguer in the same organization for his whole career. He is performing wonderfully on both sides of the ball during starting catcher's Gary Sanchez stint on the DL.

And though I missed it, I was glad that the final two runs on this desultory day came on Joseph's HR in the 9th No longer must he answer questions about his RBI dearth.

I did not expect Sunday's 7-4 Oriole 11 inning win. Especially after they blew a two-run lead in the bottom of the 9th. It was a game that lasted over four and a half hours and featured an ejection of Showalter on a disputed 9th inning balk call.

When he brought in closer Chapman for the 10th inning, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi moved reliever Bryan Mitchell to first base from the mound. The strategy backfired when Mitchell returned to the mound to give up the 3 decisive 11th inning runs with Trumbo delivering the tie-breaking RBI.

How fitting that Logan Verrett in his first appearance as an Oriole won the game with two shutout innings of relief. The former Met reliever had just been called up from Triple A the night before.

By contrast with the bizarre weekend drama in the Bronx, the Columbia Lions put on almost a clinical display of baseball Saturday in Philadelphia. They needed to sweep the Quakers to force a playoff after splitting two games in New York on Friday.

Sweep they did, coming from behind in each game. There were heroes galore but special mention must be given to slugging senior second baseman Kyle Bartelman and sophomore righthander Ian Burns who earned the second game victory with nearly 5 innings of shutout relief.

The one-game playoff will be this Saturday May 6 at 1p at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium in the Baker Field complex west of Broadway on 218th Street. We'll see if the Lions can repeat their amazing success in elimination games.

Yale awaits the following weekend in New Haven in the best-of-three series that will determine the Ivy League participant in the NCAA baseball tournament beginning on May 30.

That's all for now - always remember: Take it easy but take it.
 Read More 
Be the first to comment

Reflections on The Orioles Shaky Series at Yankee Stadium

MLB's baseball schedule is unfathomable and unfair but it seems it is here to stay (until there is a major realignment that I am not sure I would favor.) I realize that two 15-team major leagues now require an inter-league game every day, but divisional play should still take precedence at regular intervals.

Not so for the Orioles who paid their first visit of 2016 to Yankee Stadium from July 18-21. The Birds had already hosted the Bronx Bombers twice this year and won each series two games to one. Sadly, in a post-All-Star Game batting slump, they provided little opposition as the Yankees mowed them down easily in the first three games, 2-1, 7-1, and 5-0.

Though not convinced that the Orioles are a bona fide championship contender, especially because of a shaky starting pitching rotation, I attended every game. The Birds were undermanned because a stomach virus engulfed the Oriole roster keeping Chris Davis out of the lineup in the first three games and also forcing Manny Machado to the sidelines for game three.

Fortunately, both played in the Thursday day game that saw Chris Tillman perform like a true ace. His seven solid innings preserved the lead that shortstop JJ Hardy gave him with a bases-loaded single in the first inning. It was a ball that handcuffed normally reliable Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius. It was hit hard enough to be a legitimate single though it was a play that Gregorius usually makes.

Later in the game Didi made amends with some brilliant plays. His double play partner Starlin Caatro also flashed plenty of range and leather. They are the likely future of the Yankees as they aim to get younger and better.

Jonathan Schoop, like Gregorius from the tiny land of Curacao not far from Venezuela, delivered a key two-run insurance double in the seventh inning.

Remember the names of Schoop and Gregorius. Neither made the 2016 All-Star team but beginning next season they should likely add that laurel of recognition.

The Red Sox have moved into first place in the AL East, one lost game ahead of Baltimore with Toronto close behind. The trade deadline looms on August 1 and all teams will strive to improve for either this year or future years like perhaps the Yankees.

I am fascinated that so many Yankee fans are convinced that the current squad needs revamping. Yet the Steinbrenner family and close associates still evidently cling to the belief that this year can still lead to a playoff.

One word of advice to all teams (that of course won't be heeded) - Don't make deals just because of the clamoring of the media. I personally prefer the older deadline of mid-June.

It says here that teams should rely primarily on what their own organizations have developed. But since building a championship roster is such a difficult process, there will always be trades and wise acquisitions by other means.

There should be plenty of drama ahead and I for one am grateful for that. It is a precious time of year when pennant race baseball should have the main attention of real fans.
When the football season begins in late August/early September that focus will change.

That's all for now. I'm off to teach at Chautauqua in western New York during the first week of August. Will be back with reports on that later in the summer.
In the meantime, always remember: Take it easy but take it!
 Read More 
Be the first to comment