Well, it took 15 long innings, 14 different pitchers, and 432 pitches, but the Yankees finally came away with a 4-1 victory last night in Baltimore.
In a game that took almost five hours to complete, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano finally put New York up for good with a two-run double off Orioles reliever Mike Gonzalez in the top half of the 15th.
Many Yankee fans were left wondering why manager Joe Girardi pulled starter Bartolo Colon with the Yankees up 1-0 entering the ninth inning. Colon pitched his best game of the year so far, allowing only three hits, one walk, and striking out seven Baltimore batters on only 87 pitches after eight innings.
Instead of letting Colon finish what he started, Girardi followed the formula and put Mariano Rivera in to pitch the ninth. Despite being the American League leader in saves, Rivera could not close out the Orioles last night, allowing Adam Jones to score on a Vladimir Guerrero sacrifice fly.
Yankee fans should be encouraged, however, by the relief appearance of young right-hander Hector Noesi.
In his major league debut, Noesi threw four scoreless innings in relief while picking up his first major league win, the first time this has happened since 1999 when Indians reliever Jim Brower did it, also against Baltimore.
He showed some control problems, walking four batters, but had good movement on all of his pitches and was able to get out of all the jams he worked himself into.
Tonight, the Yankees will send their ace, CC Sabathia (3-3, 3.47 ERA), to the mound as the Bronx Bombers look to win their third straight after a season-long six game losing streak.
Sabathia has dominated the Orioles throughout his career as he has posted a 15-2 lifetime record with a 2.89 ERA in 21 career starts. He has been equally as dominant at Camden Yards, posting a 9-1 record with an ERA just over three.
Joe Girardi will need his ace to pitch better coming off an appearance where he allowed six runs in 6.2 innings against Boston last Saturday.
After Orioles reliever Mike Gonzalez was tossed last night for hitting Yankees outfielder Chris Dickerson in the head in the 15th inning, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was forced to use tonight's projected starter Jeremy Guthrie in relief. Although he only threw seven pitches, he is no longer expected to start tonight.
In his place is right-hander Brad Bergesen (1-4, 4.35 ERA). Bergesen is coming off the best start of his career, a complete game shutout of Tampa Bay on the road last weekend.
Bergesen, however, does not have a good track record against the Yankees. In five career appearances against New York, Bergesen is 0-3 with an ERA of 6.65. The Orioles will need the 25 year-old to pitch much better if they are to have a chance tonight.
Yankees X-Factor: 2B Robinson Cano. Not only has Cano been red hot against the Orioles at Camden Yards, he has great numbers against Bergesen. Cano currently has a 16-game hit streak at Camden Yards, the longest active streak at the park, as well as a .376 lifetime average. Cano has a .455 (5-11) lifetime average against Bergesen and should continue to be a pain in the behind for the Orioles tonight.
Orioles X-Factor: OF Adam Jones. The Orioles need the former All-Star to kick start their lineup tonight against Sabathia. Jones has a .333 (10-30) lifetime average against CC as well as a .282 lifetime average against New York. Buck Showalter will need the speedy Jones to get on base and rattle Sabathia tonight if the Orioles are to win.
Key to the Game: Yankees hitting with runners in scoring position. Despite their win yesterday, the Yankees were abysmal with runners on last night, like they have been all season long. The Yankees scored only four runs on 15 hits, left 14 runners on base, and were only 2-15 with runners in scoring position last night, with Cano's game-winning double being the only hit that produced runs. The Yankees will need to capitalize on these situations tonight if they are to win their third straight.
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