By Pete Caldera, The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) –
NEW YORK — Facing postseason elimination, the unyielding Baltimore Orioles — who fought the Yankees step-for-step nearly all of September — found a way to draw even again in October.
J.J. Hardy’s one-out double off rookie David Phelps scored Manny Machado, who opened the 13th inning with a double, and the Orioles claimed an exhausting 2-1 victory late Thursday night in Game 4 of the AL division series at Yankee Stadium.
“Seems like we’ve been pretty evenly matched the entire season,” Derek Jeter said of going into a deciding fifth game on Friday at the Stadium at 5:07 pm., with Yankees’ ace CC Sabathia going against Jason Hammel in a rematch of the series opener, won by New York.
“The objective is to win three out of five,” said the beleaguered Alex Rodriguez, who was pinch-hit for once again, this time in the 13th. “We’ll come out (Friday) with a lot of energy and go get them.”
Closer Jim Johnson, who served up Raul Ibanez’s game-tying homer in the Yanks’ 12-inning win in Game 3, came on to retire the heart of the Yanks order — Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez — to send this compelling series to its limit.
Chavez lined out as a pinch-hitter for A-Rod, one night after Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for Rodriguez a game-tying homer off Johnson in the ninth. Ibanez wound up winning Game 3 with a homer in the 12th.
On Thursday, Ibanez grounded out as a pinch-hitter against reliever Darren O’Day in the ninth with none on base, pushing the game to extra innings.
“O’Day seems to have everyone’s number tonight,” said A-Rod, who struck out against O’Day in the eighth with the infield in and runners at second and third in a 1-1 game – unleashing a new torrent of boos from the crowd of 49,307 agitated fans.
“Get one run in at least. Get a ball into the outfield,” Rodriguez said of his thought process. It didn’t happen, and manager Joe Girardi — who moved A-Rod from No. 3 to No. 5 in Thursday’s order — wouldn’t discuss any possible alterations to his lineup on Friday.
“I’m not going to rush into any decisions tonight because I don’t have to,” Girardi said.
A-Rod was asked if he expected to play against the right-handed Hammel on Friday and said, “Yeah. Definitely.” Rodriguez was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout against Hammel in Game 1.
Rodriguez also had heard it in the sixth, whiffing on a 97 mph Tommy Hunter fastball to end that inning with a runner at second.
Anyway, “it’s all hands on deck,” for Friday, Girardi said. But the Yanks exited Game 4 game a little worse for wear.
Following two scoreless innings from Rafael Soriano and one more by Joba Chamberlain, Matt Wieters opened the 12th with a broken-bat base hit – the barrel of which slammed into Chamberlain’s surgically repaired right pitching elbow.
Chamberlain flipped off his glove and bent on one knee in pain. And after tossing three warm-up pitches, rookie David Phelps was summoned for his playoff debut and quickly retired the side.
X-rays were negative on Chamberlain, who suffered a contusion. He’ll be re-evaluated Friday.
“I’ve kind of been through every situation,” said Chamberlain, whose previous mishap was a dislocated right ankle suffered in a spring training trampoline accident. “I’ll get in here and play catch (today) and we’ll see what happens.”
Jeter thought it was “an excellent pitched game on both sides the entire night.”
Curtis Granderson has been in a deep freeze all series (1-for-16, 9 strikeouts), and his failure to get down a sacrifice bunt might have cost the Yanks in the fifth.
“I feel okay. I just have to go up there, get pitches to hit and not miss them,” said Granderson, who was 0-for-5 with three Ks. “I’m chasing a couple of balls out of the zone…but I need to stay aggressive.”
Nate McLouth’s leadoff fifth-inning homer was the only run off Phil Hughes, who yielded four hits and three walks in 6.2 innings, with eight strikeouts in the latest top-notch start by a Yankee – earning him a standing ovation.
Robinson Cano’s RBI groundout scored Jeter, tying the game at 1-1 in the sixth off lefty starter Joe Saunders, who gave up three hits and four walks in 5.2 innings.
As the designated hitter, Jeter opened the sixth with a double and moved up on Suzuki’s sacrifice. Less than 24 hours earlier, Jeter had gone for X-rays on his left foot, hobbled by a foul ball in Wednesday’s Game 3.
Manager Joe Girardi had removed Jeter in Wednesday’s ninth inning, but the captain insisted he was fine before Thursday’s game. He says he’ll be ready to play shortstop Friday.
Head to head, the Orioles and Yankees have each won 11 games apiece since opening day. The Yanks have scored two more runs in 209 combined innings.
“It’s been a fight to stay ahead of this club all year,” Girardi said. A winner-take-all Game 5 to advance to the AL Championship Series against Detroit? “It’s pretty fitting.”