The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
None of these games have been easy, and this one sure wasn't. But somehow the Baltimore Orioles outlasted the New York Yankees for a 2-1 win, thanks to J.J. Hardy's 13th-inning double, and they'll play a decisive Game 5 on Friday.
Let's all say it one more time ... The past is not prologue.
At least a few observers must have watched Game 4 heading to the bottom of the ninth inning, with the score 1-1, and said out loud, "There's no way the Yankees won't win this game. It just happened last night!"
Except the Yankees didn't win. The Orioles' bullpen, deployed masterfully by manager Buck Showalter, kept the Yankees off the board in the ninth, the 10th, the 11th, and the 12th. And in the top of the 13th, 20-year-old rookie Manny Machado led off with a double. And after a ground-ball out, veteran J.J. Hardy drove a pitch well over Ichiro Suzuki's head in left field. Machado trotted home with the game's first run since the sixth inning, Hardy cruising into second base.
Hardy would be stranded on the bases, but Baltimore's bullpen held.
In the bottom of the inning, Showalter turned to closer Jim Johnson. You knew he was going to do it, but you wondered if it would work. Sure, Johnson led the majors with 51 saves during the regular season. He also gave up five runs in Game 1 of this series, and then was victimized by Raul Ibañez with a game-tying home run in Game 3.
Ibañez famously pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez in that game. In Game 4, Ibañez got another chance in the 9th inning. This time, he pinch hit for Jayson Nix, and this time, he grounded out. Which didn't mean that Alex Rodriguez would get a chance for redemption in Game 4.
With Johnson on the mound, Mark Teixeira led off and struck out after a tough battle. Robinson Canó -- like Teixeira, perfectly capable of tying the game with one swing -- came up next ... and drove a line drive into left field ... where Nate McLouth caught it.
Alex Rodriguez was next. Except, just like in Game 3, he wasn't. With Ibañez unavailable, Girardi sent up Eric Chavez instead ... and Chavez shot a line drive toward left field ... but the third baseman was in the way.
Yeah, after 12 innings of missed opportunities and going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and who knows how many other things, the Yankees finished the contest with two lasers hit to exactly the wrong spots.
Which helps explain how the Baltimore Orioles, if they can win just one more game, could eliminate the New York Yankees and move along to the American League Championship Series.
A few bones from earlier in the game ... With Joe Saunders starting for the O's and Phil Hughes for the Yanks, nobody scored until Nate McLouth led off the fifth with a homer. The game's second run came in the bottom of the sixth, when Derek Jeter led off with a double and eventually scored on Canó's ground-out. And that's where things stayed for quite some time. There were of course a few close calls, and plenty of drama; most notably in the 12th, when Matt Wieters led off with a bloop single off Joba Chamberlain, and the barrel of Wieters' bat struck Chamberlain flush on his pitching elbow. He had to retire from the game, but X-rays were negative.
This was only the third time in postseason history that two straight games in a series lasted at least 12 innings. And this this year marks the first time that all five Division Series have gone the distance.
You can't really bet on the Orioles. Not with CC Sabathia pitching Game 5 in the Bronx. But it's starting to feel like you might not want to bet against them, either.