BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 03: Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees throws his helmet after being thrown out trying to steal second base in the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 3, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
The Yankees came into Baltimore to finish off a 10 game road trip after winning a makeup game against Detroit. The offense has been minimal coming in, but hopefully a win against the Tigers would jumpstart things against the AL East leaders.
Not so fast
The Yankees would jump out to a fast start in the opening game of the series against Chris Tillman. Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez would hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning and Austin Romine would add another in the fifth inning. This was the first time in 2016 that the Yankees have hit three home runs in a game away from Yankee Stadium. After Chase Headley singled in Didi Gregorius in the sixth inning to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead, this game had a feel like it was winnable, which was unlike any of the three games in Toronto early in the week.
Nathan Eovaldi started on the mound for the Yankees and was pitching a decent game through the first five innings. He gave up a run in the second on a couple of opposite field hits and Chris Davis touched him up for a long solo home run in the fourth. Eovaldi is going to give up a few of those and for the most part he has limited the damage with solo shots.
The part about Nathan Eovaldi that kills me is the part that I seem to keep coming back to time and time again since he was acquired by the Yankees. Times through the order penalty. It seems like it almost plays a part in at least two out of every three starts. Last night was no exception. I know, I know. His pitch count was not that high. The bullpen has been used heavily and since Chasen Shreve became relatively ineffective and subsequently went on the DL, Kirby Yates has been used at this point in the game. But, his numbers have been ballooning lately as well.
But you can’t ignore the numbers the third time through. .328/.394/.578 is usually going to put you in a bad position. His strikeout rates plummet in this situation and thus opponents BABIP (batting average on balls in play) skyrocket from .229 the first time he faces an opponent in a game to .367 the third time. Friday night, he got one out in the sixth before allowing the Orioles to pull within 5-4 and then Yates allowed the tying run to score later in the inning. Look, i’m not an Eovaldi basher. The guy has real skill. But, if ever there was a starting pitcher that needed to be piggy backed with a long reliever to finish the game, it is Eovaldi. 1974 Mike Marshall, where are you?
Dellin Betances would pitch the seventh inning and allow a run for the third straight outing. He could be showing signs of wearing down as well. The Orioles would end up coming back and winning this one by a score of 6-5. The early lead would be washed away and Mark Teixeira would end up leaving the game with lower leg discomfort. Rob Refsnyder would end up finishing the game at first base, his first major league game at that position.
Blowout turned nailbiter
For a game that was very much in control after six innings, this was one of those games that if it had turned out different that you would look back on and realize it was more than just an extra tally in the loss column. A day after coughing up a 5-2 lead, the Yankees would send Ivan Nova out against the Orioles. Nova would pitch six innings of as solid baseball as the team has had this season. The seventh inning would turn out to be quite a nightmare, however.
The Yankee offense would provide plenty of support for Nova in the middle innings. After a third inning sacrifice fly from Romine, the Yankees would put up a four-spot in the fourth with seemingly everyone in the lineup contributing. Hits with runners in scoring position and with two outs as well generally always lead to success. They would add single runs in the next two innings, the second coming as Ellsbury would steal home as part of a double steal. The 7-0 lead had the feel of a no doubt win.
Mark Trumbo would lead off the seventh with a solo home run. A single and then a two-run shot from Pedro Alvarez would tighten things up a bit. A single, wild pitch, and a walk would put an end to the cruise control aspect of this game.
A questionable bullpen move would add further interest to the seventh inning. Nick Goody would be brought in with two on and nobody out to face Adam Jones. This was with Andrew Miller warming up already. Now, I understand Joe Girardi wanting to hold off on Miller until the eighth inning, especially with Betances unavailable. But, with the Orioles putting up a rally and Jones at the dish with a chance to make it a one run game with one swing, I am going to go to my big gun to try to squash the rally right then and there. Of course, hindsight is 20-20. Just seems that Miller was the play there, even possibly using Goody to pitch the eighth starting with a clean slate.
Miller would get the job done retiring all six batters he faced, but would go two innings to get the game to Chapman in the ninth. An insurance run courtesy of an Aaron Hicks double and a single from Alex Rodriguez would provide the final score of 8-6. Definitely not what fans were thinking as this game headed to the seventh inning. The Yankees will send C.C. Sabathia to the hill on Sunday looking for the series win. Hopefully, the offense will continue its weekend resurgence.
Losing a rain delay
Sabathia would battle through a career high six walks on Sunday to give the Yankees an opportunity to take a series win against the Orioles. The big lefty would need 111 pitches to get through five innings, but would leave with a 1-0 lead thanks to an RBI single off the bat of Alex Rodriguez in the third. Sabathia would not pitch as effectively as he has in recent outings, but would be the owner of a dazzling 2.58 ERA after this contest.
The offense had several opportunities to increase the lead over the middle innings, but as has been par for the course, couldn’t come through. 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position with 10 left on base added up to a wasted opportunity to make up ground on the division. Sounds like a broken record, doesn’t it?
Kirby Yates and Dellin Betances would get the Yankees through one out in the eighth inning, but after a two hour rain delay, Aroldis Chapman would blow his first save as a Yankee as he would give up three runs in the inning. Nobody’s perfect. The 3-1 loss would mean the Yankees have lost eight straight series to the Orioles which is becoming the norm against several division rivals.
This series was ridiculously close to a sweep for the Yankees. Of course, the O’s could possibly be saying the same thing. The team’s recent performance has them mired at the bottom of the division with the Rays with a record of 26-30. They will return home to face the Angels in a four game set. Hopefully, a non-division opponent will provide a bit of success as they do have a winning record against opponents outside of the AL East.