NEW YORK - After going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position last night, the Orioles are 0-for-6 through three innings tonight in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.
Forget playing in Yankee Stadium. The Orioles have ventured into The Land of Missed Opportunities.
Nate McLouth drew a leadoff walk against Yankees starter Phil Hughes in the top of the first inning, and he moved to second base on J.J. Hardy’s bunt single. Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters flied out to kill the rally.
Manny Machado walked leading off the third and McLouth doubled to right, making him 5-for-14 in the Division Series. Hardy bounced to Hughes, who threw home to cut down Machado. Davis struck out and Jones, swinging at the first pitch, grounded to second.
Jones is 2-for-15 in the Division Series. Press box observers say he’s pressing.
Opponents are batting .416 against Hughes on his first pitch. The average dips to .180 when he gets two strikes. Maybe the aggressive approach is the smart one, but the Orioles keep letting the Yankees off the hook.
Update: Hughes walked the leadoff hitter for the third time in four innings. The Orioles put runners on the corners with two outs. And they still couldn’t score.
Ryan Flaherty singled off the right-field fence to move Wieters to third base, but Machado struck out, making the Orioles 0-for-7 with RISP. They’ve stranded six runners in four innings.
Both pitchers are playing in traffic. Who gets hurt first?
Update II: Hughes got hurt first.
McLouth hit his first career postseason home run leading off the top of the fifth inning to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
McLouth is 6-for-15 in the Division Series. He has six hits in his last seven at-bats against Hughes, with three doubles and a home run.
Hardy, Davis and Jones struck out to end the inning. The big guns are still lacking pop.
Update III: The Yankees pushed across the tying run against Joe Saunders in the sixth on Derek Jeter’s leadoff double, Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice bunt, a walk to Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano’s grounder to second.
Saunders allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings in the wild card game, and he did the same tonight. He surrendered three hits to the Yankees, walked four and struck out five. The lefty threw 88 pitches, 56 for strikes.
Saunders has been clutch in two must-win games. Can’t second-guess manager Buck Showalter for choosing him.
Tommmy Hunter replaced Saunders and struck out Alex Rodriguez. He was pumping 97 mph fastballs. Certainly gives the Yankees a different look.
Update IV: The Orioles kept the game tied in the eighth inning, as Showalter continued to dig deep into his bullpen.
Suzuki and Teixeira opened the eighth with singles off Luis Ayala. Teixeira is 5-for-9 with three home runs lifetime against Ayala.
Brian Matusz, who served up Raul Ibanez’s walk-off home run last night, induced a bouncer from Cano to put runners on second and third. Darren O’Day struck out Alex Rodriguez and retired Nick Swisher on a harmless fly ball.
End of rally.
Ayala was making his first appearance in the postseason. He struck out Jeter to end the seventh and strand two inherited runners.
O’Day was making his nightly appearance. He’s been remarkable.