After the hectic, frenzied afternoon that was the non-waiver trade deadline — which saw the rebuilding Orioles shockingly trade Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, and Darren O’Day — the evening’s actual baseball game was essentially an afterthought. But the result was familiar: an Orioles loss.
This game was a perfect reminder that, as Mark Brown wrote, the Orioles are going to be difficult to watch for a while. Yes, yes, I know — they already were difficult to watch. But now they’ve traded away many of their stars and will be puttering along with Quadruple-A players and other unworthy replacements. At some point, a few prospects will be sprinkled into the mix, but they’ll go through growing pains. So we’re going to see plenty more games like this one, where the O’s will get eaten alive by the talent gap between themselves and their competition.
Tonight’s Orioles lineup featured just two players with an OBP over .300 this year (Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo, both at .312). Only three had an OPS better than .700: Jones (.747), Trumbo (.741) and, somehow, Joey Rickard (.706). Season-long unproductive hitters Chris Davis, Trey Mancini, and Tim Beckham were joined by fringe major leaguers Jace Peterson, Renato Nunez, and Austin Wynns. The Birds’ pitcher was Yefry Ramirez, a questionable starter at the big league level.
How did this plucky band of ne’er-do-wells fare against the high-priced, juggernaut Yankees? Well...not great! The O’s were utterly steamrolled, as their lineup of bad hitters stayed mostly quiet, while their threadbare pitching and defense imploded.
Ramirez, entering this game, had never pitched more than five innings in a major league appearance. He still hasn’t. In fact, he shouldn’t have gone even that far in this game. Ramirez got himself in immediate trouble with a pair of first-inning walks, setting up a Gleyber Torres RBI single. In the third, shortstop Tim Beckham put Ramirez in hot water by botching a grounder to put two runners aboard; a Didi Gregorius bloop single plated one.
Still, Ramirez was hanging in there reasonably well until the fifth, when things escalated quickly. The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out on a hit batsman, single, and walk. Greg Bird contributed a sac fly to make it a 3-0 game as Ramirez’s pitch count escalated into the high 90s.
No sooner had I said the words, “The Orioles sure are giving Ramirez a long rope here,” than he strangled himself with it. Miguel Andujar crushed a game-breaking three-run homer into the left-field seats to extend the lead to 6-0.
From there, it was all over but the shouting. Masahiro Tanaka had a relatively easy time with the Orioles’ punchless lineup, tossing six shutout innings and striking out eight. The O’s at least made him work for 105 pitches, but that’s not really a big advantage considering that the Yankees’ bullpen is, like, 10 pitchers deep.
The O’s did finally manage to scrape across some runs in the eighth against A.J. Cole. A single and a walk put two aboard for Peterson, an ex-Yankee, who drove both runners home with a double to right-center. With Trumbo at the plate, catcher Kyle Higashioka let a Cole pitch trickle off his glove. Peterson took off for third and Higashioka fired the ball into left field, allowing the runner to score. The Yankees’ lead was cut to 6-3.
That’s how it ended, though. After Dellin Betances finished the eighth, closer Aroldis Chapman made short work of things in the ninth, striking out Richard, Nunez, and Wynns in succession to seal the Yankees win.
So that’s it. The Orioles, an already-terrible team that was gutted of its best players, simply didn’t have the talent to keep up tonight. This is going to happen again, many times. Get used to it.
It doesn’t mean the Orioles made the wrong decision by selling. The team has been dead in the water since April, the organization was lacking in young talent, and the rebuild absolutely needed to happen. Someday, if all goes well, the Orioles’ bold trades this year may produce another exciting, contending ball club.
Until we get there, though, buckle your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.