The Baltimore Orioles lost a heartbreaker to the New York Yankees, 6-5, on Thursday night, dropping the all-important series and falling 2.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race.
They did not go down without a fight, even when it seemed the Yanks might run away with it. After entering the 8th inning down 5-2, Danny Valencia smashed a pinch-hit 3-run homer, his 8th on the year, to tie the game at 5.
Unfortunately, disaster struck in the ninth. Jim Johnson, the once revered closer, took the mound and promptly gave up a lead-off single to NY SS Brendan Ryan, who then advanced to second on a Chris Stewart comebacker that Johnson misplayed for an error. One Curtis Granderson sacrifice later, Ryan stood on third base when Johnson uncorked a wild pitch that eluded C Matt Wieters. Ryan scored, and the Yankees regained the lead for good. The bottom half of the inning would see Mariano Rivera add to his Hall of Fame resume by notching his 6th win of the season, sending Baltimore down in order.
These types of losses have unfortunately become all too common for the O’s this season. They are 16-27 in one-run ballgames, a far cry from their magical 2012 season.
Baltimore is now tied with Kansas City and behind New York, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay in the Wild Card hunt. It will be very difficult for them to make any headway now that they’ve dropped this series, as counting on other teams losing is never a safe bet. Being in control of your own destiny is obviously ideal, but Baltimore has let that opportunity slip them by time and time again this year.
In spite of all the negativity surrounding the ball club tonight, they do have one of their only remaining good chances for wins up next, as they will travel to Toronto to take on the last-place Blue Jays on Friday. Jason Hammel (7-8, 5.51) will make a spot start and try to stop the bleeding before its too late. He’ll take on Todd Redmond (3-2, 4.40) in Game 1, beginning at 7:07 ET.