Despite 5-0 loss to New York Yankees, Orioles clinch at least AL's No. 2 seed

YANKEES 5, ORIOLES 0

Because of Detroit Tigers' loss to Chicago White Sox, club will finish either first or second in AL

September 23, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK -- There was some consolation following the Orioles' 5-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Monday night.

Following a night in which the Orioles managed just one hit, manager Buck Showalter was told that despite the loss, the club clinched home-field advantage in the American League Division Series with the Detroit Tigers' loss to the Chicago White Sox.

With the AL East sealed, the Orioles are still chasing the league's best record -- and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Despite Monday's loss, the club remained 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Angels, who lost to the Oakland Athletics on Monday.

“That's good,” Showalter said of earning home-field advantage in the ALDS. “And it wasn't a foregone conclusion. I keep saying, you are not paranoid, you are alert to things. It could happen. You never assume anything. And now there's really only one thing left out there, and that's going to be real hard to attain with as good as Anaheim is.”

The Orioles were thrown into the hysteria of Derek Jeter's final series at Yankee Stadium on Monday for four days focused around Yankees fans' last glimpse of the future Hall of Fame shortstop. And Jeter drove in three of the Yankees' five runs on the night.

The Orioles (93-63) were one-hit for the third time this season -- they also only had one hit in two games last month (Aug. 24 at the Chicago Cubs and Aug. 6 at the Toronto Blue Jays). They suffered their 11th shutout loss of the season.

They dropped consecutive games for just the second time in nearly a month, and they have lost three of their last four. They are 2-3 since clinching the AL East on Tuesday.

They managed just one hit off Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda in 7 1/3 innings. The Orioles had just two base runners against Pineda and three on the night.

“He's got a great angle,” Showalter said of Pineda. “You can't teach six [feet]-whatever. That's what I tell people, the more I'm in baseball, the more I realize it's about the angle. He's got a great angle and the two breaking balls. He's been pitching well for a while, he's not just pitching on us. Just another thing they've been counting on this year that they've been missing. Just gives you a reminder of how good he is.”

Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen allowed two unearned runs in the third inning after a throwing error by third baseman Ryan Flaherty, and he was later the victim of a two-run double by Jeter that followed a two-out walk to leadoff man Brett Gardner.

Pineda carried a no-hitter into the fifth, retiring the first 13 Orioles hitters he faced before allowing a one-out single to J.J. Hardy in the inning.

"He's got a good angle, ball cuts, good slider,” Hardy said. “You can't really tell the difference between the two out of his hand. He didn't leave much over the plate. He was throwing strikes, but pitcher's strikes. He was good."

Flaherty fielded Ichiro Suzuki's grounder to third base cleanly to open the third inning, but he pulled first baseman Christian Walker off the bag on a wide, short-hop throw, allowing the leadoff runner on base.

In his first major league at-bat, Yankees designated hitter Jose Pirela jumped on a 1-1 pitch from Chen, sending it into the left-center-field gap for an RBI triple, scoring Suzuki.

Two batters later, Pirela scored on an RBI groundout to shortstop by Jeter.

Flaherty's costly error was the fourth committed by an Orioles third baseman in the past four games, with Flaherty committing two, Jimmy Paredes one and Kelly Johnson one.

The Yankees (81-75) then scored two runs in the fifth. Pirela hit a two-out single before Gardner walked to put runners on first and second bases.

That set the stage for Jeter, who turned on a 3-2 pitch from Chen, sending it down the left-field line to score two runs and give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.

“I think my control wasn't great out there,” Chen said through interpreter Louis Chao. “During the game, I tried to make adjustments. The results weren't perfect, but it was acceptable.”

Chen (16-5) still recorded his third quality start in his last four starts, allowing four runs -- just two of them earned -- on six hits in six innings with four strikeouts and two walks.

“We wanted to shorten him at 90 [pitches] tonight, he had a couple extra days,” Showalter said. “He's in a position to be where he should be when we get into the playoffs. I'm confident in him. And it gets magnified there when we don't score any runs.

"We get two or three runs there, it gets their offense a little less, gets them on their heels, gets them more aggressive early. when you are behind like that, that didn't help.”

Pineda (4-5) retired 22 of the 23 batters he faced before issuing a walk to Walker with one out in the eighth on his final hitter of the night. Pineda struck out eight hitters and walked one.

Pineda has allowed just one run and three hits over 12 1/3 innings in two outings against the Orioles this season. Pineda gave up one run in five innings Aug. 13 in his first game back from a back injury.

Third baseman Chase Headley hit his fifth homer of the season in the bottom of the eighth off right-hander Ryan Webb, a solo shot to straight-away center field to give the Yankees their final run.

Showalter said that Chen will make his next start on normal rest, meaning he will be scheduled to pitch on Saturday in Toronto.

“Yes, I would love to pitch on four days' rest,” Chen said. “To be able to pitch on a regular basis, I think that would help me stay sharp getting ready for the postseason.”

That also puts Chen in line to start Game 2 of the ALDS at home on Oct. 3.

eencina@baltsun.com

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