The Orioles came into Tuesday's game against the Yankees with a chance to pull closer in the division, and as the game progressed, despite a frustrating beginning, they really did have a chance to win it. When push came to shove, however, they did not take the chance, and in the end two awful batters combined to drive home the go-ahead run for the Yankees in what became a 3-2 win.
Speaking of chances, the one the Orioles had ended in the seventh inning. Once Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were on tap to take over the rest of the game, that was game over. That duo has spelled game over many times this season and the Orioles hitters looked particularly helpless against them. Jonathan Schoop, who struck out to end the game, probably could have faced Miller 100 times and struck out 100 times.
Birthday boy Wei-Yin Chen had a tough beginning to the game, surrendering runs in each of the first two innings. That included a short 15-minute rain delay brought on by the briefest of passing showers. You knew it was going to be that kind of party from the get-go. Manny Machado led off the top of the first with a walk and, before the inning was over, he bailed out a wild Nathan Eovaldi by getting himself picked off. Come on, man.
In the bottom of the first, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground rule double to get things started. I hope you didn't eat the mashed potatoes. Ellsbury advanced to third when Brett Gardner laid down a sacrifice, and he ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez. The Orioles went down 1-2-3 in their half of the second before the rains came, though the rain did not stay for long.
Chen opened up the second inning by giving up three consecutive hits, the third of which, a Chase Headley double, scored the second Yankees run. Chen successfully navigated the bottom of the Yankees order, at least that time, to avoid any further damage right then.
The O's had a chance to get themselves on the board in the fifth inning when a pair of walks set them up with two men on and one out. This was for Jonathan Schoop and Chris Parmelee, though, the bottom of the order. Both hit easy grounders and that was that. Both were hitless on the night.
Another chance came in the sixth inning, and this time the Orioles took it. Jimmy Paredes and Adam Jones each hit one out singles to get a rally going. Paredes came in to score with two outs when Matt Wieters drove a single into right field. One J.J. Hardy single later and the game was tied up - helped by a Chris Young bobble out in right field.
Unfortunately for the O's, they got no more chances at that rally. Wieters was thrown out when the ball coming in from right field was cut off and he was caught out on the basepaths. If you're Wieters, don't get thrown out on the basepaths. That's all there is to it.
I made note of the failure of the bottom of the Orioles order above. Naturally, it was the bottom of the Yankees order that did the damage against the O's. You'd think an inning that includes Didi Gregorius and Brendan Ryan would be the inning to cruise through. Gregorius has a career .659 OPS. Ryan's is a scorching .611. Yet Gregorius singled and Ryan doubled down the left field line, a ball that rolled all the way along the wall in foul territory and to the left field fence. Gregorius scored easily on this double and the Yankees were up 3-2.
Chen remained in the game, being lifted after he retired the leadoff batter in the seventh inning. His line had him giving up three runs on ten hits in 6.1 innings, with no walks and three strikeouts. If you give up double digit hits you did not have a good night.
The back end of the Yankees bullpen is bonkers. On top of Betances and Miller, they also have strong 2015 performers in Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve. Pinch hitter Nolan Reimold grabbed a leadoff single in the seventh against Wilson. Despite getting to second base with one out, he was not brought in with the tying run. And once the two late inning guys were in there, forget about it. Chris Davis lucked into a broken bat hit against Betances. Nobody else even reached as Betances and Miller combined for seven outs.
So that was the series opener. The Orioles fall to five back in the division, temporarily tied for second place with the Rays and Blue Jays. Toronto sits at 48-48, Tampa Bay sits at 47-47, and the Orioles are 46-46. The Jays are still in action out west as of this writing.
Two more games against New York await this week. The next comes tomorrow. Kevin Gausman and Ivan Nova are the currently scheduled starters. Gausman must be recalled from the minors, meaning the O's will have to send someone packing before the game. Better luck tomorrow, Orioles. Lose this series and things will be looking pretty bleak.