UPDATE: The Orioles got out of it. Darren O’Day struck out Alex Rodriguez swinging for the second out before Buck Showalter made another change, this time bringing in Brian Matusz. The southpaw issued an intentional walk to Robinson Cano before getting Nick Swisher to fly out to left field to end the inning. The Orioles lead 3-2 as we move to the bottom of the seventh in Baltimore.
11:07 PM: That extra breathing room didn’t last long. Eduardo Nunez led off the top of the seventh with a double before Derek Jeter brought him home with a single to cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-2. Wei-Yin Chen got Ichiro to ground into a fielder’s choice before Orioles manager Buck Showalter brought the hook.
Chen was given a standing ovation from the Camden Yards faithful as he walked off the field. Darren O’Day is in to face Alex Rodriguez with one out and a runner on first.
10:56 PM ET: The Orioles have a little breathing room over the Yankees.
Matt Wieters led off the bottom of the sixth with a double to right-center before Mark Reynolds brought him home with an opposite field single to push the Orioles’ lead to 3-1. Andy Pettitte was able to strike out Jim Thome and get Manny Machado to hit into a double play to escape any further damage.
Wei-Yin Chen is still in there for the Orioles. He has allowed six hits and a walk while striking out three. Chen wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and sat down the Yankees on four pitches in the fifth before working around an error by J.J. Hardy with two outs in the sixth. Pretty impressive for his first career playoff start.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.