Just a short while ago, the New York Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS in what can only be called a statement of a win. A close game until the ninth inning, the experienced Bronx Bombers ultimately pulled through by means of CC Sabathia's clutch pitching and a five-run offensive outburst in the final frame.
After the final out, one thing was clear. Baltimore may be hot, but the Yankees have just a little more fire under them and will carry that to a series victory.
That isn't to say that the Orioles are a bad team by any means. Keep in mind, they fought and clawed their way over a 10-game deficit in the standings and were battling New York for the AL Eastern Division crown up to the regular season's final day.
Manager Buck Showalter has turned this group of youngsters that finished last in their division in 2011 into a pesky group hungry to win.
Unfortunately, while the Orioles' future is definitely bright, they're never going to have what it takes to beat the New York Yankees in the playoffs. They may be able to hold their own in some games and walk away with a victory or two, but their inexperience and lack of depth always comes back to bite them.
This is where the Yankees always have the advantage come playoff time, particularly against younger teams. Of all the Orioles players who played in Game 1 tonight, only one was over the age of 30, and three were 30.
That leaves a bunch of 20-somethings who weren't used to winning and contending up until this season, so for all we know, nerves could have been a factor. For example, outfielder Adam Jones, catcher Matt Wieters, power-hitting first baseman Mark Reynolds and hotshot rookie infielder Manny Machado went a combined 1-for-15 with four strikeouts tonight (with Jones' coming in the eighth inning with the go-ahead run on base), a far cry from the clutch hitting they showed during the regular season.
On top of that, the Orioles just don't have a pitcher who they can call their go-to guy in a big game. The Yankees went with ace Sabathia tonight, while Baltimore went with Jason Hammel, making his first start since suffering a knee injury a month ago.
Nothing against Hammel, who went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA this season and was 1-0 in three starts against New York, but he isn't exactly the definition of an ace.
Who will win this series?
Why Showalter didn't opt for someone like Miguel Gonzalez, who went 2-0 against the Yankees this season and would have been pitching on full rest, is an absolute mystery.
That said, though the Orioles squad that faced New York in the 1996 ALCS was laden with veteran talent, the Yankees are always going to have Baltimore's number in the playoffs for two reasons: experience in a winning culture and reliable pitching.
Though the series is sure to be a good one, the Yankees just have more of what is necessary to bring home a win, from clutch and timely hitting to arms that can shut down the opposition.
Though Baltimore may have both of those things in its own right, it just won't be able to keep up with its pinstripe-clad opponents. The sad truth is that the Orioles' time just hasn't come yet.