Stop me if you've heard any of these before: the O's faced a pitcher who didn't bring his best stuff, but they didn't capitalize as much as they should've. Wei-Yin Chen was working on a good start until he fell apart once his pitch count got up near a hundred. Brian Matusz gave up a dagger home run in the 8th inning. Bobby Dickerson got a runner thrown out by a mile in the midst of a big inning. Yep, the O's really broke out the greatest hits for this one. Throw in some defensive miscues, and it's easy to see how today's game ended up in the loss column.
Wei-Yin Chen got the start for the O's, which usually means the Orioles would just get shut out. Instead, the team attempted to screw him over in a different way with two outs in the first inning. This time, Chris Young came to the plate, and hit a pop-up into short right field between Jonathan Schoop and Chris Davis. Neither infielder took charge to make the play and the ball dropped, scoring Chase Headley from second base for an "earned run" and a 1-0 Yankee lead.
The Bombers sent Michael Pineda to the hill, who's had very inconsistent results against the O's so far in his career: coming into today he had three excellent starts with one or less earned runs, and two terrible starts with at least five earned. In the first inning it looked like Good Pineda came to play as he sat the Orioles down on only ten pitches, but Bad Pineda reared his head in the second.
Chris Davis worked a walk to lead off that inning and Jimmy Paredes followed with a single. That brought Schoop to the plate, and the Oriole second baseman dumped an 0-2 fastball into the left field seats for a 3-1 lead. Pineda then hit Nolan Reimold with a pitch, and Ryan Flaherty kept it going with a single. The runners were bunted over by Caleb Joseph, because that's just what you want to be doing when a pitcher has allowed five straight baserunners in the second inning. Manny Machado followed through with a single off of Headley's glove, scoring Reimold. Unfortunately, Bobby Dickerson decided to send Flaherty right around the time Didi Gregorius picked up the ball in short left field. That had a predictable result: Flaherty was thrown out easily at home plate. Dickerson doubled down on that by holding Manny at 3rd on a two-out double by Gerardo Parra, so the O's couldn't tack on any more runs in the frame. It was still a big four-run inning, but one that could have been even bigger if it weren't for some seriously questionable coaching by both the manager and the third base coach.
The Yankees tacked on a run in the third inning when Chris Young drove in Headley yet again, this time with a double to left field. It was unearned, because Headley reached on a throwing error by Ryan Flaherty, but Flaherty made a tough play to begin with. We'll call it even for Chen after Young's "RBI single" in the first. While Pineda was settling in after his disastrous second inning, the Yankees inched ever closer, pulling to within one run on a solo shot by Alex Rodriguez to lead off the fifth. A few batters later, the inevitable happened: Chen issued a two-out walk to Greg Bird, and John Ryan Murphy homered to give New York the 5-4 lead.
Jorge Rondon pitched a scoreless sixth for the O's, and Pineda was finally replaced by the lefty Justin Wilson for the seventh inning. That turned out to be a bad move. Manny Machado took a cutter that didn't cut and smoked it to dead center, tying the game with one out in the inning. But the tie didn't last for long. After Rondon allowed two runners to reach in the seventh, Brian Matusz came in to face the lefty Greg Bird. I don't care what Matusz's ERA is this year, and I don't care that Greg Bird has four career home runs. I knew this was coming. You knew this was coming. Bird smashed an 0-2 pitch deep into the Yankees bullpen, and just like that the score was 8-5.
Dellin Betances came in for the eighth inning and actually walked the bases loaded around two strikeouts, but he was able to escape the jam by striking out Caleb Joseph too. Andrew Miller came in for the ninth, and the Orioles got some runners but didn't score. The details don't really matter.
This was the kind of game we used to see often from Chen, but that he's been able to mostly avoid this season: a good start that's quickly ruined at the last moment when he suddenly loses control of his extremities at around the 100-pitch mark. Honestly, though, he still should have left the game with the lead. The defense gave away a run early, and the Orioles bunted and ran themselves out of an inning that damn well could've knocked Pineda out of the game before he even recorded four outs. If it wasn't for those mistakes, this could have been a totally different game and Matusz's chance to give up the dagger may never have materialized.
Meanwhile, even the most staunch Matusz haters can admit he's had a good season overall, but his penchant for giving up crippling late inning home runs to the lefties he's supposed to retire is getting very, very old. It's hard to even get mad at this point: the O's are now 65-72, and with Boston up seven runs at the time of this posting it looks like our guys are tied for last place in the division. Is it 2016 yet?