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.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.