On Wednesday night rotation stalwart Hiroki Kuroda had an injury shortened and ineffective outing, and rookie reliever Preston Claiborne finally showed some vulnerability as the Yankees fell to their A.L. East division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles. On a good note, however, David Adams, the rookie 3B, provided a spark of optimism.
The Yankees had seven hits last night, half that of their opponents, but the most satisfying of those came in the top of the ninth inning: a home run by Adams. The scene was depressing enough, with the Yankees down 6-2 and rain coming down, sending the fans in Camden Yards scrambling for cover. All fans, that is, except the hardy group that started a loud and cheerful "Yankees Suck" chant that came through clearly on the YES Network telecast. For a ballpark that can be mistaken for Yankee Stadium South, especially in the summer, the chants made for painful listening. With a 6-2 lead and side-winding, sub-2.00 ERA lefty Darren O'Day on the mound, the Orioles fans were clearly looking forward to a comfortable victory.
Adams dug in and initially looked uncomfortable against O'Day, taking some awkward swings. Five pitches later, however, he was jogging around the bases after slugging a homerun to left, the second of his career and his second of the series. Adams has been impressive through his first six games with the Yankees, hitting over .300, playing solid defense and showing that the Yankees farm system has players that can come up and produce in a pinch.
There's little chance that Adams sticks in the majors once Kevin Youkilis and certainly Alex Rodriguez come back from their respective injuries, but he has made an impression. His Wednesday night homerun momentarily silenced all chants and, when they returned, they were "Let's Go O's!" chants instead. With the homerun, a sliver of doubt crept into the stadium. Baltimore closer Jim Johnson started warming up and the fans began imploring the team to just seal the deal.
With 13 games remaining against the Orioles, the Yankees showing that they can get to the Baltimore bullpen is an important factor. On Wednesday night, the Orioles prevailed as O'Day settled in after Adams's homerun but, thanks to Adams, the Yankees at least put up a fight.