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.
According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.
The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.
Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.
It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.
I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.
The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.
Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”
Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.