Tonight's live blog: We're under way as we close in on the first pitch of Game 4. Check in here often when you can and please leave a comment and/or question. I'll add some content throughout the night and respond to your questions.
Where's the offense?: It seems there is a school of thought going around that one, or more likely, both teams may break out on offense tonight and that Game 4 of the American League Division Series could be high scoring.
In the series so far, the Yankees have scored 12 runs and hit for a team batting average of .239 with an OPS of .679. The Orioles have scored seven runs with an average of .208 and .536 OPS. The Yankees have three homers and nine extra-base hits. The Orioles have two homers and five extra-base hits.
Who would have thought the Orioles' starters' ERA would be 1.89 and the trio of Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson would be a combined 4-for-35 in the series - yet the Orioles would be trailing 2-1 through three games?
Tonight, the Orioles' offense will try to break out against Phil Hughes. He was 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA in four starts vs. the Orioles this year. They hit five homers against him in 22 2/3 innings and Hughes gave up 22 homers at Yankee Stadium this year in 98 2/3 frames.
In two early September starts against the Orioles, Hughes pitched a combined 11 innings, giving up 14 hits and seven earned runs along with three homers.
The Orioles are 5-3 this year in Joe Saunders' eight starts. The Yankees are 18-14 in Hughes' 32 starts.
Hughes didn't pitch well at the end of the year, working to an ERA of 7.16 (13 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings) over his last three starts, and he had an ERA of 5.19 in six September starts.
What do you think, O's fans? What will it take for the team to win tonight? How will Saunders pitch? Will the Orioles' offense break out and who might be a hitting hero in Game 4?
O's strand two in the first: Well, a promising start to the game ends with three fly outs after a Nate McLouth walk and J.J. Hardy bunt single. Matt Wieters flied out deep to center on a 3-0 pitch to end the inning. I have no problem with Wieters swinging 3-0 there. They need to get the big guy going and sometimes letting him hack at a fat pitch is the way to do it. He hit it well, just not well enough. O's went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position last night and 0-for-3 in that first inning.
The frustration mounts: Hughes is either lucky, good or a little of both. He seems to be begging the Orioles to score, but they haven't and it's a 0-0 game heading to the last of the fourth. He has issued three leadoff walks. The Orioles are 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position with six left on base. Frustrating indeed.
Nate the Great: Quite a fifth inning for Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth, who led off the top of the fifth with a solo homer and started a double play to end the bottom half of the frame. McLouth is now 6-for-15 this series. He made a leaping catch near the wall in left and started a 7-6-2 double play to cap his super inning. O's lead 1-0. Yes, another close one.
Tremendous: That is my one-word description of the O's starting pitching this postseason. After Saunders allowed just one run tonight, O's starters have a 1.78 postseason ERA and have allowed two earned runs or less each start. As for Saunders, two runs allowed over 11 1/3 innings in two do-or-die games. Yeah, pretty good.
Extra innings again: Darren O'Day and the Orioles bullpen does another fantastic job. O'Day got out of a second-and-third, one-out situation in the eighth and just pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth. He's simply been amazing and this game is headed to extra innings as O's fans worldwide hold their breath.