Eduardo A. Encina, Orioles beat reporter
The Orioles’ bullpen had been such a huge part of the team’s success, and closer Jim Johnson was such an instrumental part of the pen's season-long domination. Over the course of the season, we all became conditioned to believe that the Orioles simply don’t lose tied games going into the ninth inning. But watching Johnson give up a go-ahead homer to Russell Martin – and then give up four more runs in the ninth – can’t do much to the Orioles’ morale. As Orioles manager Buck Showalter often says, “If you stay true to the game, it will pick you up off the mat.” I think a loss like this one qualifies as being on the mat.
Dan Connolly, Orioles and baseball reporter
The Orioles can’t lose the ones in their grasp. And this one was there for the taking. Not getting the run over in the eighth – after J.J. Hardy doubled to lead off – was a killer. Especially with Adam Jones – no bunt – and Matt Wieters, supposedly the best hitters, coming up. I’m not worried about Jim Johnson, but that’s now two bad outings in a row.
Childs Walker, sports enterprise reporter
What can you say? It was a great, tightly contested game until the unthinkable happened, and the Yankees' No. 8 hitter, Russell Martin, homered off of a closer who almost never gives up the long ball, Jim Johnson. I'm sure some will second guess Buck Showalter for going to Johnson in a non-save situation, but I like his aggression in using his best relievers to protect a tie game. Sometimes, good process does not yield good results. Oh, and C.C. Sabathia is really, really good.
Kevin Cowherd, columnist
A sold-out, orange-towel-waving crowd at Camden Yards, a national TV audience, a gutty 112-pitch effort by starter Jason Hammel, terrific defensive plays by Mark Reynolds and Matt Wieters – the Orioles got so much of what they were hoping for Sunday night but the all-important win. Closer Jim Johnson was uncharacteristically wild and got roughed up in the ninth inning. After a rain delay of nearly three hours, the O's dropped the opener of the ALDS 7-2 to the Yankees, whose veteran starter, C.C. Sabathia, was nothing less than magnificent.
David Selig, Orioles and baseball editor
You can't blame Buck Showalter for going to Jim Johnson in that spot. (There was no save opportunity to come on this night, so why not go to your best?) You also can't project that this gut-punch of a loss will break the Orioles' spirit. They've bounced back from some tough situations in the past and will come to the park Monday knowing they're still in this series. That said, Monday's game is a must-win for the Orioles, and there will be a more nervous fan base packing the yard later tonight.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun