There is a lot of baseball yet to be played but heading into Friday night’s action, it is the O’s who have the look of a team on the rise with the Yankees looking old and vulnerable in just about every meaningful category.
The Yankees don’t have the pitching, have trouble scoring other than the home run and look to be a team where age has finally caught up with them.
The eighth inning of Thursdays’s game could prove to be the watershed moment for both teams. In the top of the frame the Evil Empire struck back and posted a five-run rally to tie the game 6-6.
At that point it looked as if the Orioles were poised for a late-inning gutting and if that prevailed, who knows how far they might have tumbled.
Instead, Adam Jones immediately restored their mojo with a solo home run as the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the frame. Before the inning ended, The Orioles would score four runs on three home runs.
That’s how the Yankees used to win — in a thoroughly demoralizing fashion.
It was the Yankees who used to be able to take a punch, get off the mat and then deliver haymakers of their own.
Instead, it was the younger, brasher Orioles who took a nano second to recover and pound three balls into the seats. Bingo, Bango, Bongo.
“They are playing with a lot of confidence,” the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez said after it was over.
That used to be the Yankees way too.
It may not be the end of the world but if you are a TV network broadcasting post-season games and there’s no Red Sox and No Yankees it will sure feel like it.
Veteran right fielder Ichiro Suzuki had the big hit for the Yankees in their five-run eighth inning Thursday as he stroked a two-run, bases loaded single. On the night, Ichiro went 3-for-4 but that’s just about a normal game for him at Camden Yards.
It turns out that Camden is his favourite visiting park in the American League as far as hitting goes. In 47 games there, a total of 208 at-bats, Ichiro has pounded out 81 hits, including nine doubles, four triples and three home runs for a .389 average.
The ball park where he has the lowest average (minimum of 100 at-bats) is Boston’s Fenway Park where in 43 games, 180 at-bats, he has 52 hits for a .289 average.
As far as Rogers Centre goes, Ichiro hits at a .307 clip (74-for-241).
In the American League, there are just two stadiums where he has not hit a home run — Rogers Centre and Fenway.
Ichiro, meanwhile, has hardly been the upgrade that has put the Yankees over the top.
Since being acquired from Seattle, the Yankees, with Ichiro, have gone 19-22. The Mariners, meanwhile, have blossomed with his departure, having gone 24-16.
Does that tell you something or what?
Angels need Weaver back
The Los Angeles Angels can’t seem to catch a break.
Having just swept a three-game series from the Oakland A’s to put themselves back in the hunt for a wild-card spot, they lose right-hander Jered Weaver for at least one start — he was supposed to make the start Friday against the Detroit Tigers — because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.
It is not yet known how long Weaver will be out, but the hope for the Angels is that he will miss just one start.
“Quite simply, he has biceps tendinitis and it has nothing to do with being struck with the line drive (in his last start),” Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters. “He’s going to miss his start next time through and should be back shortly thereafter.”
The Angels would love to have him back next week when following the Tigers, the Halos play host to the Athletics for four games. Currently the A’s and the Orioles/Yankees are holders of the wild-card spots followed closely by Tampa Bay, the Angels and the Tigers.
The Angels have ramped it up of late, winning 12 of their past 15 games and Weaver, a 16-game winner, has been the ace of the squad.
“He’s extremely important to what happens to us today, tomorrow, next year and the year after,” Dipoto said. “I’ll let you know how relieving it is when he’s back out there, but for the time being, we’re just going to give him a little blow, skip him this time through the rotation and hopefully get him back on track.”
Bad blood, but winning
History has shown that you don’t have to have peace and harmony between every player on a team to produce a winner and now the Tampa Bay Rays are hoping to once again prove that point.
Back on Aug. 26, infielder Sean Rodriguez broke his hand punching a wall at triple-A Durham after some kind of a run-in with right-hander Dane De La Rosa and now both are back up with the Rays in their stretch drive to the playoffs.
However, the relationship between the two players remains ‘strained’ but the two are determined not to let it become a distraction.
“I’m trying to avoid him as much as possible,” Rodriguez told reporters after De La Rosa was called up.
The bad blood was apparently started over what song was being played in the clubhouse.
“How do you disrespect somebody without touching them? You say things or talk in a manner that’s very disrespectful,” Rodriguez told reporters. “In a baseball clubhouse people do that all the time. But when you turn to ask somebody, ‘Are you being serious right now?’ the way someone’s tone is, the way they’re talking to you and they either just smirk or ignore you leads you to believe one or the other, right?
“So instead of me normally doing what I normally would have done in the past, which is basically just to go and do a lot of things to him, I tried to exert my energy and frustration elsewhere to try to let it go. Bad job of trying to deal with it.”
Bad job dealing with something so trivial — period.
Reynolds in the zone
Right now Mark Reynolds is in a place that few hitters every find themselves.
There’s being in the zone and then there’s the spot that Reynolds now occupies.
The Baltimore Orioles infielder slugged two home runs in the O’s 10-6 victory over the Yankees on Thursday night to mark the third two-homer game he has posted against the Yankees in the past week. That’s right, the past seven days.
He had two-homer games against the Yankees last Friday and again on Sunday — both games held at Yankees Stadium.
It is a feat that doesn’t exactly happen every year, or every other year. In fact to find the last player who posted three multi-homer games against the Yankees in the same season you have to go all the way back to 1938 when it was done by Tigers great Hank Greenberg.
Reynolds, though, isn’t creating fireworks just against the Yankees. Prior to that he was banging them out against the Blue Jays.
Overall, Reynolds has homered in three consecutive games and has hit a total of eight home runs in his past seven contests (26 at-bats). Prior to that he had hit 12 home runs in 335 at-bats.
So what gives?
“It just happens,” Reynolds said. “I don’t know what I’m doing different now than I was early in the season.”
Maybe he’s connecting.
Maddon, you da man
Okay, everybody knows about the goofy rant that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had on a Boston radio show earlier this week when he was suckered into a ‘Do you still beat your wife’ type of question.
Valentine is a sharp guy, so the fact that he would take the bait, get boxed in and then try to punch his way out is surprising.
The funniest part of it all was that in his long-winded explanation for why he showed up late for a game in Oakland the previous week, Valentine tried to drag Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon under the same bus.
“Joe Maddon gets there (the ball park) every day at 4 o’clock, just for the record,” Valentine pulled out of nowhere.
Maddon doesn’t get along with Valentine at all but he does have a sharp wit and droll sense of humour. So, instead of lashing out at Valentine the next day, he had fun with it.
“Sorry I’m late, I just got here,” Maddon told reporters upon arriving in the dugout for his daily pre-game meeting with the press.
“I’m very flattered by the whole thing,” Maddon went on. “I think it’s very amusing, that’s all. Seriously, that’s all. I’m amused by the moment, and it’s flattering someone would include me in that conversation.”
Maddon, you da man.