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Orioles bullpen continues to struggle in 8-2 loss to Yankees

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This Friday night wasn’t a particularly good one for the Orioles. The offense stalled, while the bullpen’s current difficult situation was spotlighted at Yankee Stadium.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles began the weekend series against the Yankees on Friday night, sending Dylan Bundy to the hill to attempt to move the set against the AL East leaders in the right direction. And while Bundy did his part, the bullpen and offense couldn’t provide enough help around him to pick up the win.

Below, the details of the series-opener in The Bronx.

The recap

Unlike last night’s game against the Nationals in which the game was seemingly over before it started, the Orioles had no problem getting on the board early at Yankee Stadium. And despite Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery striking out the side in the first inning, the heart of the lineup provided Bundy with support early.

After a Chris Davis walk to kick off the second inning, Jonathan Schoop absolutely crushed a changeup over the heart of the plate, giving the Orioles a 2-0 lead. The advanced metrics agreed, too — it was quite the shot:

Both J.J. Hardy and Ruben Tejada — who was starting for Manny Machado as he continues to rest his injured wrist — singled, but they were stranded following two unproductive at-bats by the top of the lineup. Still, a (lately) rare profitable early inning for the Birds offense.

Unfortunately for Bundy, the lead ended up not lasting longer than a few Yankee batters. The 2017 version of the Yankees lineup is imposing to say the least, and in the blink of an eye the home team erased the Orioles lead. Starlin Castro hit a no-doubter HR to lead off the inning, an at-bat followed by a double that was crushed by Gary Sanchez.

Bundy settled down and retired the next three batters, though not before a sacrifice fly from Chase Headley plated Sanchez and tied the game at two.

Both pitchers really settled down in the middle innings and quieted the fireworks that the game opened with, a welcomed sight to give the game a bit of rhythm. Montgomery created plenty of ground ball outs and utilized superb command to keep the Orioles quiet, while Bundy countered with several key strikeouts and weak-contact outs to create somewhat of a pitcher’s duel.

It appeared the O’s would strike in the fifth after Tejada doubled to lead off the inning, but the decision to have Joey Rickard sacrifice bunt backfired. Trey Mancini followed with a line-out while Montgomery set down Adam Jones swinging on a breaking ball. That’s the type of game this was through five: a battle of starters that looked improbable through the first two innings.

Following a nearly perfect trio of innings after the second inning struggles, Bundy coughed up the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Aaron Hicks got every bit of a changeup. The pitch caught way too much of the zone and Hicks had no trouble crushing it far enough that all Mark Trumbo could do was turn around and watch it fly.

The Yankees re-gained the lead at 3-2, but Bundy dug deep when it mattered most and closed his quality start with two impressive at-bats. With two on and just one out following a walk to Castro, Roger McDowell visited the mound as the pitch count inched closer to 100.

The Orioles needed two solid at-bats against Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, a task Bundy accomplished with the gas tank nearing empty. He struck out Sanchez on three pitches while Gregorius popped out weakly to Chris Davis to end the inning.

It wrapped up a perfectly good night for Bundy in which his final line looked like this — 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

The Bundy portion of the night was a good one. When Edwin Jackson entered in the bottom of the seventh however, the momentum shifted almost immediately into the Yankee dugout.

Jackson committed an error when he fielded a bunt to lead off the inning, burying the short throw to Chris Davis in the dirt to put a runner on. And although it looked like he’d lock it down after recording a pair of outs, Hicks showed up again and provided plenty of life to the fans at Yankee Stadium.

He crushed a two-run blast to the second deck in right field, an absolute rocket that was gone as soon as it left the bat. That made it 5-2 Yankees, a lead that would almost instantly be advanced to 6-2 when Matt Holliday hit a double off the wall in left to score Aaron Judge, who was walked.

Needless to say, it wasn’t Jackson’s night.

He didn’t make it out of the inning as Buck Showalter went to Stefan Crichton to avoid further damage. It was a fitting call to the bullpen, as Crichton had just arrived to the stadium as the game got underway.

That sums up the current state of the Orioles bullpen rather well — with Donnie Hart in AAA, Darren O’Day injured and Zach Britton still recovering, it isn’t exactly an ideal world in terms of late-inning pitching options. Tonight’s game showcased that perfectly.

Crichton allowed two more runs in the eighth, the offense stayed quiet and the game as a whole ended rather uneventfully in a very disappointing series-opener for the Orioles.

The Yankees win gives Joe Girardi’s team a 4.5-game edge over the Orioles in the AL East.

Tomorrow, Chris Tillman will take the hill in a 7:15 nationally-televised first pitch on FOX.