Game 135: NYY vs. BAL — A “must win” becomes a “did win”

The Orioles were looking for a sweep of this weekend. The Yankees knew today was a “must win”. And maybe it was the day game blessing, but it certainly veered to the Yankees’ favor this afternoon. It helped that the Baltimore pitching was just terrible.

Michael Pineda had a pretty strong start today. He threw 87 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, striking out 4 batters. He was pretty dominant through most of his outing until the last couple of innings. In the 4th, a lead-off walk and a single put runners in the corners. A fielder’s choice scored the Orioles’ first run, but then Pineda got out of the inning shortly thereafter. After giving up a lead-off single and an RBI double to double the O’s score, Pineda’s afternoon was over. His short leash was pulled.

And it was onto Luis Severino to be the pitcher on record, inheriting the runner at 2nd and no outs. A wild pitch moved the runner to 3rd, before a strikeout halted him there. Severino got into a bit of trouble allowing consecutive walks to load up the bases before another strikeout and a ground out escaped the self-induced jam. Severino sailed through the 6th before handing the game to the bullpen.

Layne and Warren split the 7th, and Clippard came in for 2 strikeouts in the 8th before Dellin Betances came in for a 4-out save. Betances just dominated from start to finish, throwing just 12 pitches, adding 2 more strikeouts, and earning his 8th save.

Like I mentioned, the Orioles’ pitching staff this afternoon was just not good. Which certainly helped the Yankees’ cause today. Their starter barely made it through 5 innings in his 102 pitches thanks to the Yankee batters pushing his limits, especially early on.

In the 1st inning, Gardner and Refsndyer worked walks to get on base, and 2 outs later, Chase Headley’s single scored Gardner. A wild pitch moved the runners to scoring position so they both could score on Austin Romine’s nice single to give the Yankees a nice lead right there at the beginning of the game. And in the 3rd, Refsnyder led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Sanchez’s walk, then to 3rd on a double play, before scoring on Headley’s RBI single.

Actually, the walks were so frequent from the O’s pitchers, with the Yankees working 7 total walks today, all within the first 7 innings and 2 Baltimore pitchers. The final 2 pitchers certainly turned out better for the Orioles, though the Yankees still managed to eke on through in the 9th. Tyler Austin led-off the 9th getting all the way to 2nd on a fielding error. Austin moved to 3rd on Torreyes’ sacrifice bunt before scoring on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly to cap off the Yankees’ scoring today.

Final score: 5-2 Yankees, Baltimore wins series 2-1.

A little roster news: Didi Gregorius sat out today due to feeling a little sore from being hit by a pitch in yesterday’s game. Actually, what was interesting is when Girardi released the line-up card that it contained 5 rookies and Austin Romine (at DH). Girardi commented that he looked at who was hitting and wanted them in this crucial game. And clearly it worked.

The Yankees head back to New York for a big 10-game home stand (Blue Jays, Rays, and Dodgers). Talk about “must wins”… believe me, they continue. We’re coming down to the wire, and if the Yankees want a spot in October baseball, they need to win and win a lot. So here’s hoping for the old “home field advantage”.

Go Yankees!

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