By Jeff Zrebiec The Baltimore Sun
NEW YORK — Perhaps it would have been a little easier to accept if the decisive swing Monday night were delivered by Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter or another New York Yankee who has enhanced his already impressive career by beating up on the Orioles.
But Randy Winn?
The veteran outfielder, who was starting only because Curtis Granderson is on the disabled list and who hadn’t hit a homer in more than a year, drove a fastball from Jeremy Guthrie over the right-center-field field wall in the fourth inning. The three-run shot and another gem from ace CC Sabathia sent the Orioles to a 4-1 loss in front of an announced 41,571 at Yankee Stadium.
“You have to keep the ball in the ballpark from the No. 9 hitter. We didn’t do that,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “You have to get some runs on the board, and we didn’t get enough.”
After an uplifting three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, it was back to reality for the Orioles, who fell to 7-19 by falling victim to the same pitfalls that triggered their brutal start.
They got a solo homer from Matt Wieters but went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and hit into two double plays, squandering several early chances to get Sabathia into trouble. The burly left-hander went eight innings, allowing six hits and two walks to improve to 11-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 16 career starts against the Orioles, who have scored only nine runs during Guthrie’s six starts.
The visitors also failed to make a key defensive play in the Yankees’ four-run fourth as second baseman Ty Wigginton couldn’t field Jorge Posada’s hard smash cleanly and turn it into an inning-ending double play.
“It gave them an extra out in the inning,” Trembley said. “That was hit real hard. More times than not, Wiggy probably makes it.”
Wigginton said the ball was hit so well that his focus was on knocking it down and keeping it in the infield.
Guthrie (0-4) then continued his habit of marring an otherwise solid start with crucial lapses at bad times, allowing the RBI hit to Swisher on a poorly located slider, a bloop single to Brett Gardner and then the homer to Winn on a 1-0 fastball. The three-run shot, which landed in the Yankees’ bullpen, was just Winn’s second hit of the season — he entered the game hitting .077 — and also gave him his first RBIs.
It also broke a homerless streak of 491 at-bats, Winn’s last long ball having come April 25, 2009, as a member of the San Francisco Giants.
“I tried to go away, and it was more inner third instead of outer third and he put a good swing on it,” said Guthrie, who has lost eight straight decisions and is winless since Sept. 6. “He had to do the work. It wasn’t (an easy one).”
Minus the homer, Guthrie (0-4) had few other pitches to lament from his 116-pitch outing in which he allowed six hits and walked two. The top six hitters in the Yankees’ order — Jeter, Nick Johnson, Mark Teixeira, Rodriguez and Robinson Cano — were a combined 1-for-17 off Guthrie.
Swisher had three of the Yankees’ six hits and is now 12-for-23 with two homers and 10 RBIs off Guthrie. Gardner also reached base twice.
“These are hitters we see often, so we have a plan with them. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it obviously hasn’t, but it’s a battle each time,” Guthrie said. “They put out a very good lineup, and as pitchers, you have to make your pitches for it to happen. And tonight it came down to really two pitches that made the difference.”
Much of the talk before the game centered on whether there would be an incident involving Guthrie and the Yankees after New York manager Joe Girardi criticized the Orioles starter for hitting Posada on Wednesday. Guthrie has hit 17 batters since the start of the 2008 season; nine of them have been Yankees.
He hit nobody Monday night, although Posada was forced out with tightness in his right calf muscle. Joba Chamberlain ultimately needed to save the game after Yankees closer Mariano Rivera complained of tightness in his side.
But it wasn’t any of the Yankees’ big names who beat the Orioles on Monday night anyway.
“The third out eluded him, and the bottom of the lineup, he couldn’t get those guys out,” Trembley said. “Winn got the big hit. That was the difference in the game.”
(c) 2010, The Baltimore Sun.
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