The New York Yankees left Oriole Park in Camden Yards with the split they were hoping for.
The Baltimore Orioles evened their American League Division Series on Monday, Oct. 8, with a 3-2 victory in Game 2, sending the series back to New York tied at a game apiece.
Including the regular season, New York won seven of the 11 games the teams played in Baltimore. On the flip side of that, the Orioles won six of nine at Yankee Stadium during the regular season. Games 3 and 4 will be played Wednesday, Oct. 10, and Thursday, Oct. 11, in the Bronx, with Game 5 set for Friday, Oct. 12, if necessary.
Baltimore won all three series in New York this season, taking two of three in each three-game set. Those games were played April 30-May 2, July 30-Aug. 1 and Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
One recurring theme for the 2012 Yankees reared its head again on Monday night. New York left 10 men on base in the one-run loss, including six stranded in scoring position with two outs. Nick Swisher, who was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, was responsible for three of those.
For the season, the Yankees were slightly below the league average of 15 percent when it came to scoring baserunners. New York scored only 14 percent of the runners that were on base when its hitters came to the plate.
Manager Joe Girardi batted Swisher fifth in the first two games of the series, despite Swisher's well-documented postseason hitting woes. Swisher is just 1-for 6 in the series and is a lifetime .169 hitter in the playoffs (22-for-130).
Curtis Granderson is 1-for-7 against the Orioles so far coming off a season during which he produced a career-high 43 homers to go but also had the lowest batting average (.232) and on-base percentage (.319) of his career. He also struck out a career-high 195 times in 596 at-bats. It seems like ages since he hit .302 with 38 doubles, 23 triples and 23 home runs for the Detroit Tigers. But that was just five years ago, in 2007, and he threw in 26 stolen bases in 27 attempts. Since coming to New York in 2010, Granderson is batting .247, well below the .272 he hit as a Tiger from 2004-09.
Rodriguez has struggled as well in the series, mustering just one hit in nine at-bats while striking out five times.
Yankee fans have to hope Girardi shows some flexibility heading into Game 3, such as moving Mark Teixeira back up from the No. 6 spot where he batted in Baltimore. Teixeira, who missed almost all of September with a calf injury, is 4-for-8 through the first two games of the series and seems to have gotten his timing back after managing just a 1-for-12 in the final three games of the regular season.
Robinson Cano has been batting cleanup, but with Rodriguez striking out a ton in front of him and Swisher making outs behind him, the Orioles haven't seen fit to give the All-Star second baseman much to hit.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter went so far as to intentionally walk Cano in the seventh inning to get to Swisher. Cano represented the go-ahead run-a sign the Orioles were confident Swisher wouldn't hurt them. They were right; Swisher flied out to left field to end the last real scoring threat New York put together Monday night.
A middle of the lineup that consists of Cano batting third, Teixeira fourth, Rodriguez fifth and Swisher sixth might get Cano more pitches to hit. Considering the guy hit .615 in his final nine games of the regular season, getting him something he could do some damage with might help the Yankees.
Phil Watson is a 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry and a longtime New York Yankee fan.