Impressive victories and frustrating losses, pretty much summed up the New York Yankees four-game split with the Baltimore Orioles. Amid all of the Manny Machado trade speculation, the Yankees hope some of the guys stepping up in the interim continue their climb into the second half.
With hindsight being 20/20, as it turned out, aside from Jonathan Holder, the Yankees didn’t need to reach into the upper echelon of their bullpen. Yet, Aaron Boone probably pushed CC Sabathia a little further than he should have.
Staked to that 3-0 advantage, in the fourth, a two-run homer to centerfield by Mark Trumbo brought the O’s within a run at 3-2.
While a Neil Walker RBI-single to left-center would double the Yankees lead to 4-2 in the sixth, he would help Sabathia give it all back.
During the bottom of the sixth, following a walk to Trumbo, Walker, playing first base, played a potential double play ball into what was scored a double for Jonathan Schoop. Ensuing batter Danny Valencia would capitalize by crushing a three-run home run to straightaway center, give Baltimore the lead for good at 5-4.
The nightcap was a pleasant surprise, even if how the first game played out made it even more frustrating. New York’s pitching and defense shined and the 10-2 margin helped plenty too.
BRETT REIGNS SUPREME
Brett Gardner set the pace for the Bronx Bombers on both sides of the ball. Setting the table with a single to right in the first, Gardner made a heads-up play by tagging up on a Judge flyout to right and advancing to second. Gardner would come around to score on a double to right from Gregorius.
In the fourth, “Gardy went yardy” with a solo jack to right off a 2-0 fastball from Yefry Ramirez. It was all part of a 4-for-6 evening for Gardner, who also doubled in the eighth and hustled for an infield hit in the ninth.
Gardner also flashed the leather with some nice grabs on Joey Rickard in the second, Manny Machado in the third and Chance Sisco in the eighth.
LUIS LIFTS LONGER
Providing the Yankees with some length was Luis Cessa. Far more than the minimum, Cessa lasted six scoreless frames, fanning four, walking three and yielding three hits. In addition to the aforementioned Gardner’s defensive effort, Cessa was able to coax a couple of key double play balls in the fourth and sixth respectively. One couldn’t have asked for a better showing from Cessa, who for his efforts, much like Giovanny Gallegos, who earned a three-inning save in a 10-2 win if you can believe it, was optioned to Triple-A following the victory.
After an RBI-single by Greg Bird made it 4-0 in the fifth, the Bronx Bombers continued to pour it on late.
Austin Romine clocked a tw0-run homer to left in the eighth off Brad Brach, making it 6-0. Gardner traded places with Walker on consecutive doubles. Stanton beat out a grounder on an errant throw by Schoop.
In the ninth, Romine doubled home another run with a boomer to right, plating Miguel Andujar. Judge capped off the scoring with an RBI-single to right.
Losses will happen in a 162-game schedule, what made the Yankees 6-5 loss to the Orioles the most frustrating was how they lost. It was the type of loss where you beat yourself and kick yourself and even worse considering the opponent.
The return of Masahiro Tanaka was far from awe-inspiring. To be fair, he was probably left in for too long. Tanaka yielded a two-run double down the line to Joey Rickard in the second, posting the O’s to a 2-0 advantage. Staked to a 3-2 lead in the fifth, Aaron Boone marched Tanaka back out to the bump, where he surrendered his requisite home run of the night, a solo bomb to left-center. After retiring Trumbo, Tanaka was lifted anyhow. Tanaka went 4.1 frames, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks, fanning five.
Bird had a nice evening at the dish. With two on and one out in the fourth, Bird jacked a three-run homer to right off Andrew Cashner, giving New York a 3-2 advantage. The Yankees first baseman would help the club re-take the lead in the seventh with a sacrifice fly to center. Bird might’ve had another RBI in the ninth if a terrible meaningless replay wouldn’t have upheld a terrible call on the field which was Gregorius called out trying to steal second base.
A single to right by Walker would increase the Yankees advantage to 5-3.
WATCHING THE SAME BAD MOVIE
As was the case in the fifth, the lead was short-lived in the seventh. Chad Green hadn’t allowed an earned run in more than a month but was victimized by a two-run tater to right by Machado, which squared the game at five.
TURNED TO STONE
Speaking from experience, being an official scorer is a thankless job. Yet, I’m not so sure what the official scorer was looking at in Baltimore. After dropping a ball on what was a questionably ruled error on Miguel Andujar in the fourth, Bird displayed a shaky glove in the ninth. With the bases loaded and two down, Jonathan Schoop connected on a Dellin Betances fastball, past the ole glove of Bird, on what was ruled a walk-off single to right.
The series finale was essentially what most Yankees fans expect, a 9-0 football score victory against the Orioles. It marked the largest shutout victory by the Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The way they reached that point was far more interesting.
Sonny Gray was working a nasty hook on the hill. Yes, it was Baltimore but to make a basketball analogy, sometimes you need a layup to get on a roll. Gray began the night by retiring the first four, then sat down eleven consecutive batters at one point and was twirling a one-hitter through five frames. On the whole ledger, Gray tossed six scoreless innings, whiffing eight, yielding three hits and one walk.
Ahead 1-0 on a Stanton RBI-single to left, Bird busted the ballgame open in the third. Facing Dylan Bundy with the bases loaded, Bird crushed a 2-2 curveball for his first career grand slam, off the foul pole in right. The grand slam increased the Yankees advantage to 5-0. Bird’s home run gave the Yankees 152 as a team, their most in club history before the All-Star break. They would increase that total to 154 before the night was through.
In the sixth, Tyler Wade toured around the bases with a deep round-tripper to right-center. Wade’s first career homer came off a 2-2 slider from Mike Wright Jr. Wade’s big night included three hits and he was a triple shy of the cycle.
The other end of the battery also factored into the offensive onslaught. Austin Romine crushed a first-pitch fastball from Jhan Martinez in the seventh.
With the Yankees up 8-0 after Hicks reached on a fielder’s choice in the eighth, Stanton capped off the New York scoring with an RBI-single to center in the ninth. Per Katie Sharp, Stanton recorded his MLB-leading fifth four-hit game this season. The rest of the Yankees roster has five four-hit games combined. After being snubbed from the All-Star team and being edged in the final five fan vote, Stanton is quietly creeping into MVP territory.