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Orioles rally against Yankees bullpen to stay undefeated after 5-4 win

Kevin Gausman wasn’t very good and the Orioles were losing. Then, without hitting any home runs, their offense stormed back and they won instead.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Mark Trumbo stole second base and then scored the go-ahead run.
Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles stole another win from the Yankees and they don’t have to give it back. For the second straight game, they stormed back from a deficit to take the lead late and turn over the game to the back end of their bullpen. The comeback powered the Orioles to a 5-4 victory. They are the last remaining undefeated team in MLB.

An erratic Kevin Gausman and a game with no home runs does not sound like a recipe for an Orioles victory. Heading into the contest, they had scored 75% of their runs so far this season by hitting home runs. It might be their favorite trick, but it’s not their only trick. The Orioles do not need to be at their best all across the roster in order to win.

Overcoming a bad Gausman day

One thing you don’t want to see from your #1 starting pitcher is a day where he gives up four runs on eight hits and three walks in only 4.2 innings. It was ineffectiveness that finally bounced Gausman, but also his pitch count: It took him 97 pitches to record those outs. That’s just not a good day, any way you slice it. There was no one to blame but himself. He had no command.

Gausman first stumbled against the bottom of the Yankees order in the second inning. A one-out walk to Chase Headley was followed by allowing Aaron Hicks, he of the .644 career OPS, to blast a double that nearly cleared the fence. The dreaded #9 hitter, Ronald Torreyes, drove in both runners with a single that snuck into right field.

There was a play at the plate on Hicks, the trail runner, but catcher Welington Castillo could not get his glove down for the tag.

The fifth inning, which Gausman did not complete, saw him work a 3-2 count to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez before Sanchez hurt himself on a swing. Backup Austin Romine entered with that full count and Gausman promptly walked that backup. Come on, man. After a single by Jacoby Ellsbury advanced Romine to third base, the run ended up scoring when Gausman balked.

Things are weird when balks get involved. Gausman made a throw to Manny Machado while Machado was not near third base or attempting to get to third base. MASN’s Gary Thorne relayed later in the game that MLB stated this is a balk according to rule 8.05(h), which prohibits a pitcher unnecessarily delaying a game. If that’s the rule, shouldn’t David Price be charged with a balk every pitch?

Manager Buck Showalter had seen enough after Gausman allowed the fourth Yankees run on a Starlin Castro single.

The Orioles version of small ball

One of Those Things is that the Orioles just don’t score for Gausman. If anyone knows why, they’re not saying. They didn’t score much while Gausman was in the game on Saturday either, perhaps because they were facing Masahiro Tanaka, who was due for a bounce-back after getting pasted on Opening Day.

Before Gausman was removed, the Orioles could score only one run. A third inning leadoff walk by Machado turned into a run when Machado stole second - his first stolen base since 2015 - and was then driven in by Castillo.

In the fifth inning, after Gausman was gone, there was clearance to score some more. It was Tanaka’s turn to get wild and the Orioles took advantage. Seth Smith led off with a single. Adam Jones was hit by a pitch. Smith scored on a Machado double and the bases were loaded with nobody out after a Davis walk.

Bases loaded and nobody out! How could the Orioles possibly mess that up? They tried their best: Trumbo hit what was initially called a double play ball on the field, but a short replay overturned the call, so Trumbo instead had a 6-4 fielder’s choice and still gets an RBI instead of a 6-4-3 double play. The run would have scored either way.

A battle of the bullpens

If any game gets down to a battle between bullpens, you have to like the Orioles chances. Once Gausman left, Oliver Drake and then Mychal Givens kept the Yankees off the board while the O’s hitters waited to see which Yankees bullpen jabroni would be on the wrong end of the fusillade tonight.

The answer, it turned out, was LOOGY Tommy Layne, who was brought in to face Davis and only Davis and gave up a double. That failure accomplished, Yankees manager Joe Girardi then summoned a nominally better reliever, Dellin Betances.

It was not Betances’s day either. The first batter he faced, Trumbo, greeted him by dumping a hanging slider into center field in front of Ellsbury, promptly scoring the tying run. Trumbo ran himself into scoring position by taking off on a breaking ball-friendly count. That’s no joke. Mark Trumbo stole a base.

The very next pitch, Kim ripped a line drive to right field, his third hit of the game. Trumbo scored the go-ahead run on the play. The Yankees bullpen’s failure was complete.

That left things in the hands of Brad Brach and Zach Britton with six outs to get between the two of them. Brach walked a couple of guys with two outs in his inning but allowed no threatening contact.

Britton got two quick groundouts before Matt Holliday reached on an infield single. Any mortal third baseman would have not even gotten to the ball. Machado, defensive wizard that he is, made an amazing diving stop, but over at first, Davis couldn’t quite corral the low throw.

That brought up Chris Carter, last year’s National League home run champion, who, MASN’s Gary Thorne intoned ominously, had hit a home run off of Britton in the past. And he took a pitch for a ride on Saturday too - a fly ball off Britton, stop the presses! - but although it looked scary, Jones coasted to a place on the warning track and made the catch to end the game.

The Orioles will presumably lose a game eventually. It hasn’t happened yet and so they have four wins in the bank. They will put their undefeated record on the line in the series finale on Sunday afternoon, with CC Sabathia and Wade Miley set to square off in a battle of the lefties for a 1:35 game.


Who was the Most Birdland Player for April 8, 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Hyun Soo Kim (3-4, go-ahead RBI)
    (534 votes)
  • 18%
    Mark Trumbo (drove in game-tying run, stole a base)
    (135 votes)
  • 7%
    Seth Smith (2-5 and a nice defensive play)
    (53 votes)
722 votes total Vote Now