The Baltimore Orioles appeared to be on the brink of their sixth consecutive victory over the New York Yankees, but an abysmal ninth inning for Jim Johnson resulting in his sixth blown save of the season ended those hopes.
Johnson took the mound with a 2-1 lead and the number nine hitter leading off the inning. It was painful to watch as Johnson gave up a leadoff single, then he misplayed a sacrifice bunt attempt that left both runners safe. Ichiro then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out, and it took no time at all for Manager Buck Showalter to put four fingers up to intentionally walk Robinson Cano to load the bases for Travis Hafner. Johnson proceeded to walk Hafner allowing the tying run to score and followed that by allowing a walkoff single to Vernon Wells to blow his sixth save of the season and take his seventh loss of the year.
"The thing that really changed it was me screwing up the whole bunt," Johnson said. "Trying to do too many things at once instead of just taking the out, and then I screw the whole play up and that kind of escalates the situation. Obviously, the walk to Hafner, walking in the tying run, that's not what I'm trying to do. It's frustrating. I've been working since Day One to get to where I need to get, but I'm still going to keep working hard."
Lost in the blown save was a gutsy outing by Miguel Gonzalez (6-3). Gonzo did not have his best stuff on the mound last night, but kept finding ways to get out of jams. Baltimore has come to appreciate how much of a bulldog mentality that Gonzalez has and he showed it last night. Despite walking five in the game, Gonzalez managed to allow just one run on four hits over six innings, while striking out four.
Troy Patton and Darren O'Day each tossed a scoreless inning of relief and Patton has returned to his 2012 form over the past couple months as he has dropped his ERA all the way down to 3.68.
Baltimore's offense continued its slumber last night and allowed Yankees starter Ivan Nova (3-2) to throw a gem of a game. Nova tossed a complete game, while allowing two runs on three hits, one walk and he struck out 11 Oriole hitters. The only damage came in the second inning when Matt Wieters connected for his 11th home run of the season, a two run shot that gave Baltimore a 2-0 lead at the time. Nate McLouth and Nick Markakis each had singles to account for the rest of Baltimore's hits.
The O's will look to even the series today as they send Chris Tillman (10-2) to the mound for the start against the lefty Andy Pettitte (5-6). It will be interesting to see if Showalter will go to Johnson if the game is in a save situation in the ninth inning.
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