After eking out a close win on Tuesday night, the Orioles cruised to a comfortable victory tonight, lighting up Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda and piling on six early runs while keeping the Yankees offense off the board for the most part.
Kuroda simply did not look good, even putting aside the Manny Machado line drive off his calf in the second inning (which led to him being pulled early in the third). Every ball off an Orioles bat seemed to be a well-hit fly ball. Nick Markakis and Chris Davis led a first-inning assault, clocking two home runs to center for three early runs, giving the Orioles a lead they'd not relinquish.
In the third inning, Kuroda gave up a leadoff double to Adam Jones, followed by a Chris Davis single, before being lifted from the game with what was later described as a bruised calf. Reliever Preston Claiborne promptly served up an Earl Weaver special to Matt Wieters, leaving Kuroda to be charged with a Tommy Hunter special (five runs, all earned).
As with many of Jason Hammel's starts this year, the offense spotted him a lot of runs. But unlike a lot of Hammel's shakier starts, he put in a serviceable effort today. He wasn't dazzling by any stretch of the imagination, but 6 2/3 innings with 6 Ks, 2 BBs and 2 ER is something I'd take every day of the week and twice on Thursday (note: not actually redeemable twice on Thursdays). Hammel had some clean innings (like a quick 2nd with a stray single, and a 1-2-3 4th) and some scary innings (like the 6th, when he started elevating his pitches, or the 3rd, where a Curtis Granderson double and Robinson Cano single quickly plated one of the Yankees' runs). A mistake pitch in the 5th also resulted in a solo HR by Granderson, but I'll always spot a starter a solo HR when they're pitching with a solid lead.
With two outs in the seventh inning and lefties coming up in the order, Hammel was pulled in favor of Brian Matusz. He received a standing O from the Orioles fans on his way out, and deservedly so. Matusz walked the first batter he faced but got Cano to end the inning, then followed it up with a perfect 8th.
The O's weren't able to add any runs after the third, but it didn't matter. With a four-run lead, Darren O'Day came in to close it out. Yankee rookie David Adams, who was annoyingly good in this series, hit an FUHR, but O'Day came back to retire the next three, finishing on a swinging strikeout of Brett Gardner.
After losing the first game of this series for their sixth loss in a row, the fans were down in the dumps. But two games later things are looking up. I expect in the morning the sun will be shining a little brighter, the skies will be bluer, and traffic will be lighter. And hey! Tomorrow is Kevin Gausman Day.