The bad news for the Yankees is they were swept by the Tigers in the American League Championship Series. The good news is Alex Rodriguez now has a date for Saturday night.
Have the Orioles ever been swept in the postseason? Don’t think so.
Watching the Yankees stumble out of the ALCS like a drunk after last call should bring pleasure to fans here, but I can’t get past how the Orioles almost certainly would have put up more of a fight. They didn’t hit in the Division Series and still pushed the Yankees to a fifth game, losing by only two runs.
If one guy had gotten hot, if one guy had produced one more clutch hit, they might have kept playing.
Whatever pleasure is derived from the Yankees’ hasty exit in the ALCS is tempered by the realization that they were primed to be booted from the Division Series, and the Orioles lacked a finishing kick.
The Yankees had CC Sabathia in Game 5. That was the difference. Just like the Tigers have Justin Verlander.
“They have the type of stuff that could develop into the top end of the rotation,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said last weekend. “We have a couple top starters. Do we have a No. 1 starter yet? I think we need to continue to look for a No. 1 starter. But we might have a couple right here.”
Here are the Orioles’ opening day starters since Mike Mussina left as a free agent:
2001 Pat Hentgen
2002 Scott Erickson
2003 Rodrigo Lopez
2004 Sidney Ponson
2005 Rodrigo Lopez
2006 Rodrigo Lopez
2007 Erik Bedard
2008 Jeremy Guthrie
2009 Jeremy Guthrie
2010 Kevin Millwood
2011 Jeremy Guthrie
2012 Jake Arrieta
Bedard had ace stuff, but you can’t ask out of one-run games after six or seven innings with a reasonably low pitch count and be mentioned in the same breath as Sabathia and Verlander. He did, however, bring in quite a haul from the Mariners.
The Yankees would love to unload Rodriguez and the five years remaining on his contract. The Orioles, meanwhile, have no desire to move their third baseman - to another organization or position.
I keep reading suggestions that the Orioles hand the shortstop job to Manny Machado and shift J.J. Hardy to third base, a position he’s never played. Machado adapted to it quickly, but what’s the point of experimenting again? Hardy is one of the top fielding shortstops in baseball. He committed six errors this season, matching his total in 2011. And not because he lacks range. As always, I’ll trust me eyes. I know what I’ve seen since he got here.
His hands are amazing. The guy fields bad hops in his sleep. He swipes down at throws in the dirt so he can more quickly apply the tag on would-be base-stealers. As manager Buck Showalter says, put on a glove and try doing that sometime.
Machado could evolve into a Gold Glove shortstop, but he’s not there yet and he wouldn’t be an upgrade over Hardy. And why assume that Hardy would be an upgrade over Machado at third?
Leave well enough alone. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Hardy is this team’s shortstop until his contract runs out. Machado is more than fine at third base, and there’s more than enough time for him to play shortstop in the majors.
Hardy’s not moving to second base, either, so let’s not go there.