9:36 am Sep. 10, 2012
This past weekend, the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees played a four-game series that established, for both teams, the ability to take a punch and counter.
Each team won two games. The Orioles won a 10-6 decision Thursday by leading 6-1 into the late innings and then following a Yankee comeback with three home runs to seal the victory. Saturday, they got a strong start from recently acquired Joe Saunders to help hold off the Yankees, 5-4.
Meanwhile, the Yankees, whose recent struggles largely surrounded their offensive woes, averaged nearly eight runs per game in the series, and in that Saturday loss, they would have had a fifth run were it not for an awful, game-ending call by first base umpire Jerry Meals. They recovered from that call to rout the Orioles Sunday, 13-3.
The series a number of hugely dramatic events: Meals' call, multiple comebacks, late-inning home runs and major injuries. Other than the injuries, the two teams leave the series precisely as they entered it relative to each other, with the Yankees up a game on the Orioles. There are 22 games to play.
It's not clear who comes off worse in terms of the body count. Here's what we know for sure: the Orioles' regular right fielder, Nick Markakis, is going to miss six weeks with a broken thumb after he was hit by a pitch from CC Sabathia. He's one of the Orioles' top hitters and a strong leadoff option, with backups Nate McLouth and Lew Ford both significant downgrades.
The Yankees did not emerge from the series intact, either. Mark Teixeira aggravated his calf injury on that final, controversial play Saturday night. In fact, the slide into first that probably cost his team the game was a bow to the pain he was feeling in that calf. Teixeira will undergo an M.R.I. Monday to determine the extent of the damage, but he's made it clear that he knows he cannot play on it at even the 80 percent healthy level he tried to on Saturday.
The good news for the Yankees is that with Alex Rodriguez back and hitting at third base, the team can utilize Eric Chavez and Steve Pearce in a platoon at first base, limiting the offensive hit the Yankees will take without Teixeira.
The other, more serious concern has to be with CC Sabathia, whose poor outing on Saturday night, complete with reduced velocity, led the New York Post's Joel Sherman to ask manager Joe Girardi three times whether Sabathia was healthy. (A meeting with Sherman in Girardi's office, complete with screaming and security, followed shortly thereafter.)
Sabathia missed time last month with a sore elbow, and has a great deal of mileage on him to this point. The Yankees are too closely bunched with their rivals at this point—the Orioles are not only a game behind the Yankees for the division lead, but also sit in the second and final wild card spot, while Tampa Bay looms just a game behind the Orioles—to simply rest or limit Sabathia ahead of the playoffs without putting that playoff spot itself in jeopardy. The flip side, of course, is that an injured Sabathia may well pitch as he did on Saturday night, or worse, suffer a more significant injury.
But that all could change this week. The Yankees face the Red Sox, 1-7 in September following a 9-20 August, for three games before taking on Tampa Bay this weekend. The Orioles host Tampa Bay for three, then travel to Oakland.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Chipper Jones left Citi Field without a final huge blow, but the Braves managed to make it seem like old times anyway by sweeping the Mets. The Mets are 4-18 at Citi Field in the second half.
Either the preseason concerns about the Jets' offense were overblown, or the Bills are not an accurate indicator of N.F.L. competition, or both.
Darrelle Revis, who suffered a kick to the head late in the game, does not have a concussion, according to the Post.
James Dolan publicly met with Isiah Thomas late last week.
J.R. Smith guaranteed a championship, so you'll probably want to reserve your spot on the Canyon of Heroes now.
Ronnie Brewer, newly signed to play with Smith, had a knee surgery, and is expected to miss the first two weeks of training camp.
Now with Chivas USA, Juan Agudelo said he didn't believe the Red Bulls cared about his development, which was the conclusion lots of other people reached as well.