There have been seasons where the Yankees just struggle in Baltimore, despite where either team are in the standings. Chalk it up to divisional rivalry of sorts, though the Orioles’ dominance wasn’t obvious in the Bronx. But 2019 certainly isn’t like any other season, and this series in particular is proving that point.
Masahiro Tanaka got the start in the final game in Baltimore this series. He threw 95 pitches in 6 strong innings, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out 5 batters. In the 2nd, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a single and throwing error before scoring on a fielder’s choice. The Orioles were the first on the board.
The Yankees were unusually held off for most of the game until Clint Frazier’s 2-out solo home run in the 5th to tie up the game. In the 6th, with 2 outs, the bases loaded were loaded with LeMahieu’s 1-out walk, a 2-out double by Voit, and Morales’ walk. Gio Urshela then hit a long single to score LeMahieu and Voit.
After a pitching change helped close out the inning, the Yankees continued their advance in the 7th. With 1 out, Estrada worked a walk, stole 2nd, and then scored on Austin Romine’s single. Another pitching change, another new inning, and Luke Voit hit a solid 1-out solo home run in the 8th.
Now, things were looking up for another easy win for the Yankees, but sometimes travel days (or these oddball matinees at the end of a series) spell all sorts of dramatics and quirks. After Jonathan Holder breezed through the 7th, he started the bottom of the 8th with quite a jam, walking consecutive batters and giving up a single to score the lead runner.
With 2 runners on base and no outs, the Yankees called in Tommy Kahnle to take hold of the situation. After 1 out, however, he gave up a 3-run home run to promptly tie up the game once again before closing out the inning.
So, the Yankees took the 9th inning to rally back, and thanks to some sloppy pitching (and a couple “Oriole killers”, it worked. After 2 quick outs, pinch-hitter Gleyber Torres worked a walk, pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez singled, and LeMahieu walked to load up the bases. In steps Aaron Hicks who then worked a walk, which scored Torres. A little anti-climactic for the go-ahead run, but you take what you get when it matters.
Britton breezed through the 9th in just 9 pitches, against his former team, earning just his 2nd save of the season.
Final score: 6-5 Yankees, Yankees sweep Orioles 4-0
Next up: The Yankees are on their way to Kansas City to face the Royals this weekend before they head back home for their next home stand. They will host the Padres and Red Sox before hitting the road again in June.
Injury update: After yesterday’s game, CC Sabathia was feeling it in his knee, a recurrent injury for him. With treatment and tests, it was clear that Sabathia needs some time to rest and recoup some of his strength, diagnosed officially with knee inflammation, and was eventually put on the 10-day IL.
The Yankees then recalled Nestor Cortes Jr from AAA Scranton, with plans to use the “opener” method, or the single inning pitcher to start a game followed by some long-term relievers. In other words, they’ll be relying a bit more on their bullpen, which certainly has its off-moments (like Holder’s 8th inning stint today) but has risen to the challenge more often than not.
As the Yankees close out this series in Baltimore, the most talked about highlights are the newly christened “Oriole killers”, especially Gleyber Torres. It’s actually history-making, as Torres has 12 big league home runs and 10 of them are against the Orioles. The first MLB player to have 10 of his first 12 homers be against the same team. Plus, he’s hit safely in every game he’s played against them (11 games) and has 13 RBIs and a .465 batting average against them. Yankee Universe knew how good the young infielder was, but the Orioles are just realizing how much they’re actually helping boost his records.