Pitching was king this afternoon at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland as both pitching staffs of the Yankees and Orioles held the opposing offenses scoreless for the first ten innings. It took a two-out, bases-loaded single off the bat of Jimmy Parades to give the O's a 2-1 win.
Both offenses failed over and over again to cash in on the few opportunities they were given by the starters. The Orioles' Kevin Gausman provided the New York lineup with more chances than his counter-part, Brandon McCarthy, did for the Birds. The bullpens, however, would be a very different story.
Gausman allowed runners on in six of the seven innings he pitched, coming by way of seven hits and two walks, to go along with the seven strikeouts he notched. The young righty showed great resolve in the way he worked out of several high-pressure situations.
In the top of the fifth, singles from John Ryan Murphy and Antoan Richardson led to two runners on, two outs and Jacoby Ellsbury headed to the plate. Gausman came right at him with back-to-back fastballs, which Ellsbury fouled off. He then used a slider to get him to fly out to Nick Markakis in right field to end the threat.
Things got even dicier for the LSU alum in the following frame. Martin Prado led off with a single. Following two outs, Chris Young sent a line drive double to left field. Prado advanced to third on the play. His legs seemed to be bothering him a substantial amount as he seemed frustrated with himself. The Bombers second baseman had just returned from a hamstring injury.
Stephen Drew worked a seven-pitch walk to load the bases for Murphy. The right-handed swinging Murphy jumped on a slider that seemed like it was going a long way when it came off the bat, but it landed safely in Alejandro De Aza's glove located just into foul territory in the left field corner, ya know, attached to De Aza himself. Exhale.
The O's starter allowed one more runner on in his seventh inning of work when Richardson delivered a one-out single. After an Ellsbury fly out, and with Prado at the plate, Richardson strayed just far enough off of first-base that Gausman made a quick throw to Steve Pearce covering to nab him, end the inning and close his stat line for the day.
He threw seven scoreless with the aforementioned seven hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. However, his fastball didn't seem to have its normal zip. He was settled into the 92-94 range for his fastball, which still tops what all of the other Orioles starters are typically capable of, but it wasn't the 99 mph "wow" factor that "The Gas-man" usually brings.
As well as Gausman pitched, McCarthy was even better for New York. He threw up seven zeroes himself, but did so by giving up only four hits and six strikeouts while walking no one. In fact, no one even made it to second base on the California native until his final pitch of the game. That said, not much to talk about. He was good. If ya didn't see it, you didn't miss much more than utter frustration on the part of the Baltimore bats.
Gausman was replaced by Andrew Miller, who proceeded to stifle the Yankee offense. It took him 15 pitches to strike out the side; too easy.
McCarthy did pitch into the eighth for New York, but was removed after one batter because Kelly Johnson doubled to right field to begin the inning. Dellin Betances took over. Nick Hundley put down a sacrifice bunt. The Yankees tried to nab Johnson at third but he beat the tag. Hundley was safe at first, putting runners at the corners with no one out. This could only get better!...right?
Well, Jonathan Schoop struck out and then Markakis hit a ground ball to Drew at second base who threw to Prado at third base to tag out Johnson. Ughhh! De Aza followed with a walk to load the bases for Adam Jones, but the all-star did not have one of his better games. He struck out to strand all three runners. His afternoon at the plate: 0-for-5, four strikeouts.
The top of the ninth was Darren O'Day's. He made easy work of the Evil Empire, retiring the side in order.
In the bottom of the frame, the Orioles loaded the bags with a Steve Pearce walk (Quinten Berry pinch ran and stole second), an intentional walk to J.J. Hardy and a Nick Hundley walk with two outs for Schoop. Of course, the Orioles second baseman struck out to end the inning. And the frustration mounts.
Then, a team scored in the eleventh inning...a team scored. No, BOTH teams scored.
Brad Brach relieved Zach Britton after an easy tenth frame. He retired the first two batters of the inning and then Chris Young smacked a 95 mph fastball to deep left field and into the stands for the first run of the day and giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
As deflated as the Orioles fan base likely was heading into the bottom of the eleventh, the Orioles showed none of it and kept their head when facing the new Yankee pitcher, Adam Warren. Nelson Cruz led off with a six-pitch walk and was then pinch ran for by David Lough. Ryan Flaherty laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Lough to second base. Hardy followed with a hit by pitch to put runners on first and second base. Johnson struck out and Steve Clevenger pinch hit for Hundley. He put together a nice at-bat to walk and load the bases with Birds.
Oriole manager Buck Showalter kept the roster moves coming when he pinch hit Jimmy Paredes for Schoop, who had struggled all day. Paredes, after sitting on the bench for nearly four hours, stepped to the plate, swung at the first pitch he saw and put the ball down the right field line to score both Lough and Hardy to give the Orioles their first runs of the game and a win in the first game of the day by a score of 2-1.
The Oriole offense lacked the normal firepower that we have come to expect from them. Their patience at the dish proved to be their most valuable trait. They walked six times and notched just five hits.
Gausman was really good again. Granted, he got himself into some trouble, but it is promising that he was able to work out of it and go seven innings. It is his third consecutive start of seven innings or more. Over those three starts, he has thrown 21.1 innings and allowed six runs on 17 hits and eight walks. Has he done enough to make one of his rotation-mates worry about their spot in the postseason?
You don't have to wait long for more Orioles action. They are slated to play their second of the day tonight at 7:05 p.m. Bud Norris starts for the Birds. He will be opposed by Bryan Mitchell for the Yankees, who will be making his first career MLB start. Following Goose's big game today, this could prove to be an important start for Norris.