We will have four Game Fives in division series play this year for the first time ever.
The Orioles defeated the Yankees 2-1 in 13 innings tonight at Yankee Stadium to keep their season alive and force a decisive fifth game tomorrow afternoon.
The Orioles grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Nate McLouth hit a solo homer off Phil Hughes in the fifth inning, but the Yankees evened things up in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI ground out by Robinson Cano. The game remained tied all the way until J.J. Hardy delivered an RBI double off David Phelps in the top of the 13th inning.
Joe Saunders was shaky, yet effective for the Orioles, allowing one run on three hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings. But the members of Buck Showalter’s bullpen were the real heroes on this night, as they held the Yankees scoreless for 7 1/3 innings while giving up just four hits and one walk. Darren O’Day came up huge yet again, this time tossing 2 2/3 shutout frames. Pedro Strop struck out two over two scoreless innings in his first appearance of the series while Jim Johnson tossed a perfect bottom of the 13th for the save.
Derek Jeter went 2-for-6 and Jayson Nix went 2-for-3, but the rest of the Yankees were a collective 3-for-35. Curtis Granderson went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and is now hitting .063 (1-for-16) with nine strikeouts in the series. Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts and was removed for a pinch-hitter in the second straight game. He’s 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts in the series. We may see an interesting lineup for the Yankees tomorrow with the season on the line.
The Yankees will send their ace C.C Sabathia to hill tomorrow while Jason Hammel will pitch for the Orioles. First pitch will be 5:07 p.m. ET. The winners will advance to face the Tigers in the ALCS.
In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.
The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.
Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.
Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.
There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.