Yankees lose 5-4 to the Orioles for the 2nd day in a row, head to the sunny skies of Anaheim

The Yankees lost for the second game in a row to the Baltimore Orioles by the score of 5-4 in extra innings, but the culprit this time was actually the bullpen.  After playing the Orioles at home for three games they had to travel to Baltimore, during a rare off day, for one game, to make up a game that was postponed due to Hurricane Irene.

Ivan Nova pitched well enough to get the victory, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings and it would have made sense for Girardi to have left him in to finish the sixth inning since he was only at 98 pitches.  This was Nova’s 13th start since June 3rd and he is remarkably not picked up a loss in any of them, while getting the victory 11 times.

However, he was on track to win the game since Alfredo Simon gave up four runs in the first three innings.  All the runs actually came off of singles.  In the top of the second, Eric Chavez singled to shortstop scoring Alex Rodriguez.  Later in the inning with the bases loaded and two outs, Derek Jeter singled to shallow center scoring Robinson Cano and Chavez.

In the top of the third Chavez would collect his second single of the afternoon and thus his second RBI as Mark Teixiera scored from second after a rare steal.  After the fourth inning the Yankees failed to have a runner reach scoring position off of five Orioles relievers.

They were shut off the bases by four of those relievers and three of them – Clay Rapada, Jeremy Accardo and Jo-Jo Reyes – have ERA’s over 5.18.  They will need to improve their hitting against relief pitching as they will be facing relieves who are much more dominating in the coming series against the Angels in Anaheim, as well as in the playoffs.

Baltimore was led by likely Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero, who was 3-5, with a homer off of Nova.  The real hero for the Orioles during this game was the speedy Robert Andino out of the ninth spot in the Baltimore lineup.  He won the game for the O’s as he had an RBI single in the 8th off of Rafael Soriano for his second blown save, and a walk-off single in the 10th off of the newly re-acquired Scott Proctor.

They Yankees were lucky that the Blue Jays helped them out once again by beating the Red Sox to keep their division lead at 2.5 games.

The Angels have been surging of late, having won six of their last 10, and they also won seven of eight towards the end of August.  Anaheim is now only 2.5 games behind the Texas Rangers so it is possible that the Yankees will play them in the first round of the playoffs.

However, the Detroit Tigers (who lead the AL Central by 8.5 games), Rangers and Angels are all only separated by 2.5 games so we likely will not know the first round pairings until the last few days of the season.  If the Red Sox win the Wild Card as they in position to right now they will play the division winner with the second best record and the Yankees will play the other division winner.

As of now the most favorable matchup for the Yankees would be if the Angels do indeed overtake the Rangers in the AL West since they have the weakest offense and the Yankees hit pretty well against their starters, which even includes CY Young candidate Jared Weaver.

They don’t want the take the mindset of scoreboard watching to set up their first round matchup but facing the Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander (22 wins, 2.44 ERA, 232 strikeouts) twice in the first round would be very imposing.

The Yankees should have been able to win three or even four of the games during their makeshift series against the last place Orioles, but they played down to the competition in the last two games with errors, not hitting in the clutch and A.J. Burnett pitching on Wednesday.   They also had to deal with a lot of rain.

After playing in what seemed like monsoon conditions at times the Yankees are definitely happy to be playing cross country near Disney Land for three games against the Angels.  They will get to avoid the rain for at least three days, play under the sun, but will unfortunately have to face Weaver on Friday after not much rest.

The hefty Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.72 ERA, 123 strikeouts) who has been consistently reliable and at times dominating, surpassing any expectations that Cashman would have had for him, will pitch against the team that he won the CY Young for in 2005.  That was also the last season that he was healthy for the whole campaign.

Colon should be a lock for the Comeback Player of the Year after the blast from the past season that he has put together, especially since he was out of baseball during 2010 due to right shoulder pain and damage to his rotator cuff.

Usually teams that are playing games on the other side of the country have a travel day but the Yankees off day was ruined because of the makeup game yesterday.

The Yankees lead the season series 4-2 after struggling against the Angels in years past.  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, (who have gimmicks like the rally monkey that the Yankees would never use) have been the Yankees nemesis in the playoffs in previous seasons but it seems like they match up better this season.

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