This Labor Day divisional clash looked as though it was going to be an opportunity for the Orioles to inch closer to holding onto a postseason spot. Baseball is an odd game however, and the visiting Yankees eventually took control in the middle innings and didn’t look back.
Below, the recap of a Monday afternoon, series-opening loss at Camden Yards.
After Dylan Bundy tossed a scoreless first inning, Tim Beckham took advantage of another leadoff opportunity to prove that his presence in the every-day lineup might be the most underrated factor of the current wild card picture. He’s very, very good.
On a 3-1 fastball that Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery left up in the zone, Beckham gave the pitch quite a ride to right field, good enough for his 19th home run of the season. That made it 1-0, a quick lead that wouldn’t need too much more time to be extended.
With Bundy locked in, the middle of the lineup had the opportunity to do what it tends to do best. In the bottom of the second with Mark Trumbo on first following an error, Chris Davis, as he’s done so many times before, hit what looked to be a routine pop-up that ended up clearing the wall in left field.
He got under the pitch enough that it looked as though it’d break through the clouds, but it had just enough of a boost to carry into the first row and get over the fence. It was very Davis-like, making the score 3-0 heading into the third.
Bundy worked a scoreless and hitless game through a trio of innings and truly appeared to be well on his way toward another solid outing. But with a fairly high pitch count and some command issues, his start quickly fell off the tracks.
Following a Starlin Castro single to kick off the fourth, Didi Gregorius didn’t miss any of a hanging slider in the heart of the plate. The ball bounced off the top of the scoreboard and had just enough height to abruptly cut the Orioles lead to one. And with Bundy’s pitch count approaching 80, the damage wasn’t done.
Multiple plus at-bats forced Bundy’s workload to rise in a rather brutal fashion. He walked both Aaron Judge and Todd Frazier, providing Jacoby Ellsbury the opportunity to tie the game with a bleeding single through the right side of the infield with just one out.
On Bundy’s 82nd pitch of the afternoon, Ellsbury did just that at the end of a seven-pitch AB.
The single tied things up at three, and while the Orioles starter did escape the inning without coughing up the lead, he exited with 92 pitches to his name on the afternoon. Not ideal, but very fitting toward the 2017 season’s theme.
Buck Showalter made the decision to stick with Bundy to open up the fifth, a move that proved to be costly just two batters in. With Chase Headley on first following a leadoff single, Bundy left a first-pitch fastball right down the middle of the dish that Castro got every bit of.
The second two-run home run of the game ended Bundy’s afternoon and quickly got Miguel Castro into the game. After kicking off his start with three smooth innings, Bundy collected a rather disappointing final line: 4 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 98 pitches.
Castro kept things under control in the fifth, but back-to-back walks in the top of the sixth led to a pair of runs to make it 7-3.
Ultimately, this game’s story can be told fairly simply — too many free passes. Through the sixth inning, Orioles pitching (Bundy, Castro and Donnie Hart) combined for eight walks. The pitch counts were high, the momentum continuously swung to the Yankee side and because of that, the final score landed where it did.
The Yankees bullpen, which worked most of the game following Montgomery’s exit after just 4.2 innings, deserves much of the credit for putting the road team in the win column on Monday. Whether it was the deciding factor or not, momentum was fully on the side of the Yankees following the first three innings and the ‘pen was almost flawless.
Chad Green entered immediately after Montgomery and was brilliant, tossing 2.1 innings of perfect baseball. He didn’t allow a baserunner and struck out four to get the Yankees to the eighth with the 7-3 lead in tact.
David Robertson against the top of the lineup in the eighth inning certainly raised some eyebrows at Oriole Park, particularly following back-to-back walks to Beckham and Manny Machado to kick off the frame. But unlike the visitors, the Orioles weren’t at all able to capitalize on opportunities via the free pass.
Following the walks: Jonathan Schoop struck out, Adam Jones struck out, Trey Mancini grounded out to second. Just like that, the window of opportunity, and ultimately the chance to grab another late-game win, was shut.
Both Richard Rodriguez and Gabriel Ynoa pitched late and kept the Yankees at seven runs, and Welington Castillo teed off on a Dellin Betances pitch for a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth. So, not all bad news. Still, there wasn’t enough here on this afternoon to ignite another late-game comeback.
With this loss behind the team, the series continues tomorrow with Jeremy Hellickson and C.C. Sabathia facing off. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.