An escape, a Russell Martin bomb and some insurance has the Yankees up 7-2 in the ninth

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UPDATE: Turn out the lights, folks. Jim Johnson had nothing, and now the Yankees sport a 7-2 lead.

11:56 PM: So many chances for both teams had gone by the wayside by the ninth inning rolled around, the last of which came in the bottom of the eighth. There the Orioles got a leadoff double from J.J. Hardy, only to have him stranded when CC Sabathia bore down and retired the heart of the O’s order — Adam Jones, Matt Weiters and Mark Reynolds — to escape the jam.

Then, to lead off the ninth, Russell Martin hit a homer off Orioles closer Jim Johnson. It’s now 4-2 in the ninth, and the Yankees aren’t done yet. Two men on and no one out.

10:19 PM: It’s now the bottom of the fifth, tied at two. The Yankees scored their second run on when Mark Teixeira singled in Alex Rodriguez in the fourth. Teixeira was thrown out trying to stretch it to two, however, shortening the inning. Two base running mistakes so far for the Bombers. You wonder if they’re gonna wish they didn’t give away those outs.

9:44 PM: The game finally got underway after a nearly two and a half hour rain delay, but the long delay worked out as we didn’t run into some awful replay of the CC Sabathia-Justin Verlander aborted start from last year.  We’re three innings and change in now, and the Orioles lead the Yankees 2-1.

The Yankees drew first blood in the first inning, with Derek Jeter singling and Ichiro doubling him in. Then Ichiro was promptly gunned down trying to steal third because someone though that was a good idea.

The Orioles came back in the third with Chris Davis and Lew Ford singling, each being advanced a base on a Robert Andino bunt and then both scoring when Nate McLouth singled them in.

After a few bumps in the first inning, Jason Hammel seems to have settled down and seems to be in something of a groove. CC Sabathia is CC Sabathia. Looks like a good one so far.

Report: Giants in “serious discussions” with Reds to acquire Billy Hamilton

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Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants are engaged in “serious discussions” with the Reds to acquire center fielder Billy Hamilton. Talks are apparently advanced enough that a deal could be completed before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

It’s no secret that the Giants would like to make an upgrade in the outfield this offseason, as the club has also been linked to Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Currently, the Giants’ outfield consists of Denard Span, Hunter Pence, and Jarrett Parker.

Hamilton, 27, owns a meager .248/.298/.334 batting line across parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds. However, he has plenty of speed, having stolen at least 56 bases in each of the last four seasons. Hamilton is also well-regarded for his defense, which would be a boon at spacious AT&T Park.

Hamilton is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to earn $5 million for this coming season. Buchanan notes that the Rangers are also interested in potentially acquiring Hamilton.