The Orioles dream of going undefeated lives another day as they staged a comeback against the Yankees, scoring five unanswered runs after falling behind early in the game. Ubaldo Jimenez had a shaky start that looked like it would lead to the first Orioles defeat of the young season, but home runs by Manny Machado and Seth Smith erased the possibility.
The Wild First Inning
Between Ubaldo and Yankees pitcher Luis Severino, the first inning was quite the tone setter for the game as a whole. Each team only scored one run but it felt like it should have been more.
For Jimenez, it was like a microcosm of the problems that he has faced throughout his Orioles tenure. He almost walked lead off batter Brett Gardner before Gardner singled on a 3-2 pitch. After Gardner stole second, Ubaldo succeeded in walking Gary Sanchez, setting the table for an RBI single by Matt Holliday. It was a pretty weak hit by Holliday but it got the job done.
He didn’t allow any more hits, but by the time Jimenez got the third out he had thrown 30 pitches and the patience of Orioles fans was wearing thin.
The bottom of the inning was similar to the top half, although more Yakety Sax-like. Seth Smith hit a solid double to right field and came in to score on a single by Adam Jones that just barely got out of the infield on the right side. After Manny Machado struck out, Chris Davis reached on an infield single.
Severino almost got out of the inning after that as Mark Trumbo hit a sharp line drive right to third baseman Chase Headley. Headley made the catch and had Jones caught off of second base. But his throw didn’t make it to the second baseman. Instead it hit Jones and ricocheted into the outfield. Both runners were able to move up, but Welington Castillo struck out to end the inning.
Trouble with the Dinger
Before the game started, broadcasters Jim Palmer and Gary Thorne were talking about Jimenez’s troubles and how he doesn’t actually give up that many home runs even when he struggles. That’s not exactly how things turned out tonight.
After a bounce back second inning, Jimenez found himself in trouble in the third. Gardner singled again and was on board for Matt Holliday’s first home run of the year. That put the Orioles in a 3-1 hole which was discouraging but not terrible considering the Orioles were facing a guy who was likely to give up more runs.
More discouraging was the second home run of the night that Jimenez gave up, a monster shot by catcher Gary Sanchez in the fifth inning. With Gardner on base again, Ubaldo threw a juicy pitch over the plate that landed at the very back of the left field lower box. That was it for Ubaldo. He left the Orioles in a four-run deficit. All that was left to do was for the bullpen to hold on and the bats to come back. And what do you know, they did!
For Severino, he managed to hold the lead in his five innings of work, but not before giving up a home run of his own. With two outs Adam Jones worked a walk to bring Machado to the plate. Machado hadn’t looked good in earlier at bats, but he more than made up for it by knocking an Earl Weaver Special into the O’s bullpen. That made the score 5-4 in favor of the Yankees.
How’s Your Bullpen?
After uninspiring outings by the starting pitchers, both teams turned to their bullpens. Only one of those bullpens was able to keep the other team off the board. (Spoiler, it was the Orioles.)
Oliver Drake relieved Jimenez and kept the Yankees in check despite a hit and a walk allowed. He was followed by Darren O’Day, Donnie Hart, Brad Brach, and Zach Britton. All were effective but especially so were Brach and Britton.
Brach struck out the side and looked absolutely untouchable. Britton bounced back from his two shaky outings against the Blue Jays with a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout and two ground outs. There was a scary moment where it appears Britton twisted an ankle, but he was able to finish the game and hopefully it’s nothing.
The other bullpen, namely the Yankees bullpen, didn’t have the same good fortune. Armed with a one-run lead, we all knew it was important for the Orioles to score before the eighth inning when they’d have to face Dellin Betances followed by Aroldis Chapman.
After Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless sixth, only Tyler Clippard was standing between the Orioles and the back end of the Yankees bullpen. Clippard was not up to the task.
First Clippard was let down by his defense. Headley, who had already made multiple nice plays in the field, bounced a throw to first that skipped past Greg Bird. That allowed the batter, Jonathan Schoop, to get to second as the tying run. One bunt out later, Schoop was on third and all Seth Smith needed to do was hit a long fly ball to tie the game.
He actually did one better, hitting his first home run as an Orioles to give the O’s the 6-5 lead! His dinger just cleared the fence on the flag court. Yes! Welcome to Birdland, Dad! The two runs were the first surrendered by the Yankee bullpen this season.
With the lead in hand the Orioles didn’t look back, notching their third win in as many games this season. Still undefeated!
Who is the Most Birdland Player for Friday, April 7th?
This poll is closed
Seth Smith (double, go-ahead homer)
Manny Machado (Earl Weaver Special)
Brad Brach (1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K)