The Yankees have changed starters for Thursday night’s series finale. They’re sending Phil Hughes to the mound instead of left-hander Dave Huff.
Tonight’s pivotal moment came in the ninth inning when Robinson Cano led off with a home run against Tommy Hunter, leaving manager Buck Showalter open to second-guessing over his bullpen choice.
Brian Matusz wasn’t used and Troy Patton didn’t enter until Lyle Overbay stepped to the plate with two outs and Curtis Granderson on third base following a triple. Overbay reached on an infield hit to increase the Yankees lead to 5-3.
“Tommy’s been throwing the ball well for us,” Showalter said following a 5-4 loss. “Tommy’s a good option for us regardless of who’s hitting. I think Cano’s a threat regardless of who’s pitching. I think it was a change-up, I’m not sure, something that got up out over the plate. Good selection, just bad location.”
It was a changeup after Cano fouled off a 95 mph fastball.
As I wrote earlier, left-handers were batting .304 against Hunter before tonight and right-handers were batting .121.
“Tommy’s throwing the ball good,” Showalter said. “Just want to keep him that way. I’m not going to abuse... There’s a reason why he’s been pitching well for us, because we’ve been able to put him in a situations where he can do what he can do. I want to be proactive with it instead of reactive to problems because we need him.
“He got a big out for us there in the eighth and couldn’t quite get it done there in the last inning.”
Jim Johnson warmed in the eighth but sat down after the Orioles failed to take the lead.
“They’re both good options and we feel like we have the same opportunity to win either way,” Showalter said. “Obviously, Jimmy has had a lot of outings this year, but Tommy is fresh and ready to go. Either way you go, getting that part of the lineup out is going to be a challenge.”
Darren O’Day still isn’t available, which also changes how Showalter uses his bullpen.
“Of course, but you’ve never heard me talk about it except when you ask me,” Showalter said. “It is what it is. The Yankees have had some situations they’ve had to deal with, too, so it’s part of it.”
Scott Feldman allowed three runs and three hits over 7 2/3 innings. Two of the hits were solo home runs.
“He was really good again, especially when you take into consideration they’d kind of seen whatever he has to offer over at Yankee Stadium, too,” Showalter said. “Real proud of Scott. That’s pretty impressive. Bodes well for some things that he can do for us the rest of the way.
“Scott’s competitive, lot of ways to get you out. He just had a little trouble keeping the ball in the park tonight.”
As the regular season winds down, the Orioles missed another opportunity tonight. They’re in fourth place in the American League East and the Yankees passed them in the wild card race.
“It’s an opportunity, but it’s not something that...I don’t get into that,” Showalter said. “There’s a lot of baseball left. Tonight was a tough night for us, like last night, but these guys will turn the page and compete their rears off tomorrow. Anybody that would want to close the door on us would be making a mistake.”