A close game and the Orioles going to the bullpen? That was money in the bank all season long. But now it’s the playoffs and nothing that came before mattered. And tonight the Orioles faithful saw something unusual: their All-Star closer get beat around and turn a 2-2 tie game in the ninth into a 7-2 loss in a New York minute.
The O’s and Yanks played it tight for eight innings, with runs scoring for New York on an Ichiro double and a Mark Teixeira single. Those hits surrounded a Nate McLouth two-run single. Baltimore and New York remained tied at two from the fourth through ninth inning.
The turning point came in the bottom of the eighth when J.J. Hardy reached on a leadoff double. CC Sabathia, hovering around a hundred pitches, may have been yanked in other circumstances, but Joe Girardi kept him in and was rewarded for it: the big guy struck out Adam Jones, induced a foul out by Matt Wieters and then got Mark Reynolds to ground out to short.
Buck Showalter called on Jim Johnson to handle the ninth. Not a bad call, actually. The bullpen has been the O’s meal ticket all year and Johnson hadn’t given up a run since September 8 en route to a 51 save season. He immediately gave up a run, however, in the form of a dinger to Russell Martin. After that the wheels fell off, with Johnson surrendering five runs total on an assortment of hits and a sacrifice fly.
Hard to criticize Buck Showalter for going with his closer in a tie game at home. Sometimes, though, things just don’t work out the way they had been working out before.
New York Mets pitchers struck out 26 Braves batters last night. That ties a major league record for strikeouts in a game. Four other teams have performed the feat. The Mets joined the the then-Anaheim Angels, however, as the only two teams to strike out 26 batters and lose. Those Angels fell to the Brewers 1-0 in 17 innings in 2004. The Mets fell to the Braves last night, 2-1.
Jacob deGrom led the charge with 13 Ks in seven innings of work, with his only blemish being an RBI single surrendered to Freddie Freeman in the sixth inning. deGrom atoned for that himself, however, hitting a home run off of Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz in the bottom of the sixth to tie things up at one. That’s how things would remain when both starters left the game and it moved on to extra innings.
The first arm out of the pen for the Mets was Seth Lugo, who struck out four batters in two frames. Then came Edwin Díaz, who fanned two, followed by four relievers who each punched out one batter. The Mets final reliever of the night, Jeurys Familia, worked the fourteenth inning and recorded three outs, all via strikeout.
Unfortunately, he also gave up two hits and walked two batters. One of the hits was a ground rule double off the bat of Adeiny Hechavarría. Hechavarría, of course, was designated for assignment by the Mets earlier this month, one day before he was to earn a $1 million bonus for days on the active roster. Take that, old boss. He was then singled in by another recent Braves pickup, Billy Hamilton to make it 2-1, which would prove to be the final score.
In all, 26 strikeouts and a loss. I’m guessing the Mets would’ve taken fewer Ks and a win.