Jim Johnson bounces back as Orioles even ALDS with Yankees

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Jim Johnson took the loss in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees last night by giving up five runs (four earned) in the ninth inning while retiring just one batter. But he redeemed himself tonight.

Johnson, who led the majors with 51 saves during the regular season, pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save as the Orioles topped the Yankees 3-2 to tie the ALDS at 1-1. Yes, it was another one-run win for Baltimore. It was also the O’s first playoff win at Camden Yards since Game 1 of the 1997 ALCS against the Indians.

Wei-Yin Chen was excellent for the Orioles, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits and a walk while striking out three. Darren O’Day fanned Alex Rodriguez for a big strikeout in the seventh while Brian Matusz was impressive yet again, getting four crucial outs, including two strikeouts. While the ninth inning was a nightmare for Johnson last night, it was pretty uneventful this time around. He induced ground outs from Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki before striking out Rodriguez swinging to end it.

Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds were the heroes on offense for the O’s. Davis had a two-run single in the bottom of the third while Reynolds’ opposite-field single in the sixth ended up being the difference in the ballgame.

The series will resume Wednesday at Yankee Stadium when Miguel Gonzalez pitches for the Orioles and Hiroki Kuroda starts for the Bombers.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.