The Orioles haven't won more than six straight games in over a decade. Their latest six game winning streak, matching the longest in the Buck Showalter era, was halted with a 5-3 loss on Sunday afternoon against the Yankees. So it'll be at least another week before they win seven in a row. Probably a bit longer, just a guess. They've still won seven of their last nine, which is pretty good, although it looks a little less good with the division rival Blue Jays racking up their 11th straight win elsewhere.
Every loss is unique and agonizing in its own way. This one was not any exception. Emergency starter Mike Wright, needed due to Miguel Gonzalez suffering a groin injury in his last start, had an extremely tough time putting away Yankees hitters. There were many foul balls and many pitches thrown early on in the game, which made for an awfully slow affair.
It took about 90 minutes to play an inning and a half. That's not fun for anybody. The score was tied 2-2 at the end of all of that. An infield hit by Brett Gardner and a Mark Teixeira double that was only fair by about an inch brought in a run for the Yankees in the first inning. Three straight singles in the second inning led to another Yankees run after Gardner hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.
The Orioles kept things competitive early by scoring two runs themselves in the bottom of the first inning. Two singles and a walk gave the O's bases loaded with only one out in the first, and recently-added Nolan Reimold continued to be hot, driving in two runs with a single. Unfortunately, they couldn't get any more runs out of that situation.
They grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning. Reimold led off the inning with a walk against Yankees starter Adam Warren. A J.J. Hardy single moved Reimold up to second base, where he was easily able to score on a two-out double off the bat of Caleb Joseph. You'd think that a runner on first might score on a double with two outs and the ability to go on contact. Most of the time that would be true.
The elevated pitch count really caught up to Wright in the fifth inning. His command abandoned him. He led off the inning by walking Chase Headley, then promptly also walked Alex Rodriguez. Come on, man. By this point, Wright looked to be cooked and the back from suspension Brian Matusz was up in the bullpen. Showalter chose to stick with Wright for one more batter, maybe hoping for a ground ball double play to squash the rally.
Instead, Wright threw a wild pitch to Teixeira, allowing the runners to move up, before eventually walking Teixeira to load the bases with nobody out. That was finally enough for Buck, who brought in Matusz. Wright left having thrown 104 pitches in four innings plus three batters.
It's a tough task to come in with the bases loaded and nobody out. I don't want to make light of that. But Matusz came out of the bullpen and immediately walked left-handed batter Garrett Jones. Matusz is here to retire lefties. Instead he walked in a run to cause the game to be tied. Matusz got a couple of strikeouts and it almost looked like he might get out of that jam, at least until he gave up a two-run double to backup catcher J.R. Murphy.
It was a wholly Ayalan effort by Matusz, who allowed all of the inherited runners to score without tagging his own ERA. Wright's line ended up reading with five runs on six hits and three walks. "The baseball gods weren't kind to Wright today," said Showalter in his post-game remarks, which is true, but Wright wasn't very kind to himself either, and Matusz was also not kind to Wright.
After trashing Yankees relief pitchers in the first two games of the series, the Orioles did not manage to get any hits off other, better Yankees relief pitchers on Sunday. Warren departed with only 4.2 innings pitched, so for the Yankees relief trio of Chasen Shreve (which is a real person's name, I swear), Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances it was 4.1 innings where the only two runners allowed were two walks.
Though it came in a losing effort, the Orioles made use of Tyler Wilson in long relief and he did a lot to spare a bullpen that had been heavily worked while short-handed during the Matusz suspension. Showalter said after the game that there were three O's pitchers unavailable. The O's brought up Wilson, who'd been scheduled to start for Norfolk today, precisely for long relief insurance of this sort. He did that job well, soaking up the last 3.1 innings of the game in which he gave up three hits.
Next up for the Orioles is a four-game series with the Phillies, with the first two in Baltimore and the second two in Philadelphia. The scheduled starters for Monday's 7:05 start are Wei-Yin Chen and Aaron Harang.