They barely have the streets swept clean following the Kansas City Royals’ World Series parade, and the off-season intrigues have begun in earnest. OK, a couple began when it barely began sinking in that the New York Mets had blown a Series they actually could have won, or when Don Mattingly left the Los Angeles Dodgers and became the Miami Marlins’ new manager. But let’s start looking:
What a difference Monday makes. To Jim Johnson and to the Baltimore Orioles.
On Sunday night, Johnson got slapped around like a parakeet when he came in to try holding a two-all tie. On Monday, he and his fellow bullpen bulls stood fast enough, after rookie Wei-Yin Chen out-pitched and out-smarted out-of-retirement, wizened Andy Pettitte, before getting tired in the top of the seventh.
And the Orioles had it even with the Empire Emeritus, a 3-2 win played about as tightly as a baseball game can be played under any conditions, never mind postseason conditions that include only slightly veiled weather threats.
Don’t be surprised if the word “defiance” turns up on Baltimore Orioles’ caps or uniform sleeves somewhere during this postseason. Their very season seems to define it, and the way they pushed the Texas Rangers out of it seems to redefine it.
My God, the Rangers even managed to load the pads on Oriole closer Jim Johnson with two out in the bottom of the ninth and David Murphy coming up, and all they could do was watch in mute horror when Murphy’s fly settled into Baltimore left fielder Nate McLouth’s glove for the game, 5-1.