Sometimes you're the bird; sometimes you're the statue. The Orioles were the statue today. Although they moved plenty, most of the movement was of their bats swinging and missing at Michael Pineda's pitches. Pineda came into the game sporting a very good ERA of 2.97 and an excellent FIP of 2.20. He'd struck out nearly one in four batters while walking fewer than one in five. The Orioles are a high-strikeout, low-walk team and so the stars were thus aligned: Pineda struck out 16 Orioles hitters, setting a career high for him and also for this young baseball season. He also didn't walk a batter.
According to Baseball-Reference, only 14 starters since 1914 have struck out at least 16 with zero walks. Fourteen! Many of the names will be familiar to you: Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Kerry Wood, Dwight Gooden, Curt Schilling, Johan Santana, and so on. There's not a bad pitcher in the bunch. Although K's are up and walks are down overall, Pineda certainly made his mark with this game.
Bud Norris also made a mark, although of a different kind. He came into today's start sporting an ugly ERA of 9.75 and a bad FIP of 4.83. In particular he'd surrendered an astonishing .484 wOBA against left-handed hitters this season. That's why Joe Girardi packed today's lineup with lefty and switch-hitting bats. Alex Rodriguez was the only true righty in the bunch.
It took a little while, but Girardi's move paid off. The first three innings against Norris were mostly quiet; the only trouble was in the bottom of the first when the Yankees had runners on first and second with two outs and Brian McCann at the plate. Brett Gardner, the lead runner, inexplicably tried to steal third base and was gunned down by Caleb Joseph. For the Orioles' part, J.J. Hardy knocked his first home run of the season in the top of the second to put the Orioles up early.
It all unraveled for Bud in the fourth inning as he was going through the lineup for the second time. Brian McCann grounded out into the shift, but Carlos Beltran pulled a solo shot into the second deck to tie the game at 1. Chase Headley walked and Stephen Drew singled him to second base. Light-hitting Didi Gregorius then singled to the right fielder Delmon Young. Young should've either hit the cutoff man or thrown home to prevent Headley from scoring; instead, he threw directly to third base which was behind Headley who had started for home. He scored and gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
The next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, poked an opposite-field double over Alejandro de Aza's head. The broadcasters said de Aza misjudged it, and he did, but it didn't look like he could've gotten there anyway, Two more runs scored and it was 4-1 Yankees. With Norris at 88 pitches and with only two strikeouts and three walks, Showalter pulled him from the game rather than face further damage.
Brian Matusz entered and got out of the inning, striking out Gardner and getting A-Rod to fly out. In the bottom of the 5th, he gave up a solo shot to McCann and walked Carlos Beltran, but retired Headley and Drew to end the inning. Meanwhile, the Orioles were swinging and missing, swinging and missing. de Aza K'd to end the fourth inning, then Caleb Joseph K'd to start the 5th. Ryan Flaherty and Manny Machado K'd to finish the 5th, and then Jimmy Paredes and Adam Jones K'd to start the 6th. At six K's in a row, Young smacked a double off the center-field wall. You could be forgiven for thinking Chris Davis would K to end the inning, but he grounded out instead.
Matusz hit Gregorius with a pitch to start the bottom of the 6th. The next two batters reached on forceouts at second base, at which point Jason Garcia entered the game. He walked A-Rod but struck out Teixeira to end it. In the top of the 7th, Pineda finished off his masterpiece by striking out Joseph and Flaherty. Garcia responded by ... walking three batters and giving up a run on a double by Gregorius. Luckily there was a double play sandwiched in there, and also luckily Gregorius was thrown out going for third, so only one of his two baserunners scored. That run made it 6-1 Yankees.
The Orioles scratched back against Esmil Rogers. The hot-hitting Paredes hit a one-out double and scored on a bloop single by Jones, making it 6-2. That would be the last Orioles baserunner, as super-reliever Dellin Betances entered the game and shut down the rest of the lineup, striking out two more along the way.
The loss drops the Orioles to 13-16 while the Yankees increase their record to 20-12. Tomorrow the Orioles return home to what is being dubbed Re-Opening Day, their first home game after the sad events in Baltimore last week. Ubaldo Jimenez will take the hill as Marco Estrada works for the Blue Jays.