The rain that plagued the East Coast for the last two days soaked Baltimore yesterday without any let up, pushing last night’s game to today. Both teams are headed to other cities tomorrow (Yankees to Texas, Orioles to Cleveland), so they both had open travel days today. The teams agreed to a matinée make-up game today (when it was bright and sunny) to allow both teams to head out this afternoon before the night games tomorrow. (And this still allows both rosters to rest up before their weekend series.)
Anyway, so they played their finale in Baltimore this afternoon before another small crowd. (It’s like the citizens and precipitation-associated games don’t mix well.) Sonny Gray got the start and threw a pretty decent outing. He threw 102 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run, and struck out 5 Baltimore batters.
Gray and the Yankees’ defense held off the Orioles until the 6th inning. With 2 outs and 2 runners on base, a batter hit into a force attempt on a fairly easy grounder but a throwing error allowed the runner to reach safely, and the other 2 batters to advance 2 bases, scoring the lead runner. The error making the run scored unearned.
That would be it for Gray, handing the ball over to Chad Green, who did what Chad Green does really well — closed the 6th and then powered through the 7th inning to keep the O’s at that lone run scored. Kahnle and Heller each took an inning to close out that game, breezing through the Orioles’ roster with such ease. Basically, the three of them showing off why the Yankees’ bullpen is still quite feared by their opponents.
The Orioles’ pitching staff, however, is not quite so fearsome. Their starter certainly got hit pretty hard by the Yankee offense, and the bullpen got dinged up a bit too. In the 1st, Brett Gardner led-off with a walk, stole 2nd, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ 2-out double. Aaron Judge’s 39th home run of the season followed that, a big 2-run home run up the middle to put the Yankees firmly in an early lead.
In the 3rd, Gregorius hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on Judge’s walk, and then scored on Matt Holliday’s single. Then while Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a force out at 2nd, when the Orioles couldn’t turn the double play at 1st as well, Judge hustled it home to add yet another run to the score. The Orioles’ starter was done after just 3 innings, but the Yankees couldn’t be stopped.
In the 4th, Gardner hit a 1-out double and then scored as part of Chase Headley’s 2-run home run. And with a new reliever in the 6th, and 2 outs, Starlin Castro’s solo home run kept things moving solidly in the wind column. Todd Frazier decided to match that with his own 2-out solo home run in the 7th inning to cap off the Yankees’ runs today. Baltimore pitchers finally figured out how to stop the Yankee bats, but the lead was solidly in the win column.
Final score: 9-1 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1
I saw that the last time the Yankees won a series in Baltimore, the winning pitcher was Mariano Rivera back on September 12, 2013. The Yankees always seem to struggle at Camden Yards, with someone once attributing their issues as a “Oriole Voodoo Curse”, but that seems a bit extreme. I mean, it’s not like they were caught stealing signs with Apple watches. (When that’s resolved, probably in the off-season, I promise to talk more about this.)
And in absolutely disheartening news, former Yankees GM and special advisor Gene “Stick” Michael passed away earlier today at his home in Oldsmar, Florida (part of the Tampa Bay area). He was a huge part of the Yankees organization for many years, a great presence, genuine heart, and one of the smartest analysts of the game. His long list of contributions include helping to sign and develop the “Core Four” and the team that would become the latest dynasty, winning 4 World Series Championships in 5 years.
But even more than that, Stick was a man of good character, quick humor, and sincere friendship. The Yankees and Orioles took a moment of silence before today’s game, and the Yankees donned black armbands on their uniforms in his memory. The legend and legacy of Stick Michael will not be soon forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his widow Joette and his many friends and family during this time.