The New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles three games to two to win their AL Division Series matchup, and move on to the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. Here are five observations from watching the series.
1. The Orioles were destroyed by their plate discipline.
In five games, Orioles hitters walked eight times. That is a horrendously low number, especially when you consider that one game went 12 innings and one went 13. Baltimore only hit .187 as a team, and getting more baserunners would have definitely been a good thing, especially when they weren't getting any wood at all on the ball.
2. Both pitching staffs were magnificent.
The Orioles had a 2.52 ERA, which is pretty awesome and was boosted by Jim Johnson's four earned run ninth inning in game one. The Yankees though? Their team ERA for the series was 1.76, including an absurd 0.79 ERA by the bullpen. New York's pen allowed just one run in 11 1/3 innings over the series, and didn't walk a batter. Credit to the Yankees starters for going deep in every game, resulting in the pen being very well-rested even with the two extra inning games.
3. God bless Nate McLouth.
As a Braves fan, that statement makes me physically ill. But I'll admit ti: McLouth did a fantastic job for the Orioles this year, and that continued into the playoffs. McLouth was responsible (runs + RBI – HR) for four of the Orioles' 10 runs in the series, and his 11 total bases were nearly double his closest teammate (six by Manny Machado). Without McLouth, I shudder to think how this series would have turned out for the Orioles.
4. Raul Ibanez is the newest Yankee postseason legend.
It's always the random guys, never the superstars. Add Raul Ibanez to the mythical ground where Bucky Bent, Jim Leyritz, and Aaron Boone are hanging out. Ibanez had just ten plate appearances in the series, and three RBI…but the first of those three RBI tied a game in the ninth, and the second two each won a game for the Yankees. If Ibanez doesn't hit that first homer in game three, do the Yankees even get a chance to win the series in game five? That shows you how critical it is to have a capable bench in the playoffs. Look at the Cardinals, who got more hits out of pitchers (two) than pinch hitters (one) in their series with the Nationals.
5. Alex Rodriguez wasn't the only Yankee to not show up this series.
A-Rod is getting all of the attention (as usual) in these playoffs for choking, and it's not necessarily undeserved, but other Yankees hitters need to at least share the blame with him. While Rodriguez went 2/16 with two walks and nine strikeouts, Robinson Cano went 2/22 with two doubles, Nick Swisher went 2/18 with two walks and five strikeouts, and Curtis Granderon went 3/19 with one homer, one walk, and nine strikeouts. And hell, even Derek Jeter struck out nine times (while walking only once, but also logging eight hits). If Rodriguez shows up in the ALCS but the rest of New York's offense doesn't, they're not going to be playing more than seven more games this season.