The 24-65 Orioles, on pace for 118 losses, carried a six-game losing streak into their matchup against the 58-29 New York Yankees. They sent converted reliever Jimmy Yacabonis to the mound for just his second major league start against CC Sabathia, carrier of a 3.02 ERA. You could be forgiven for not having a ton of confidence in the Orioles to pull out this win.
As they say: that’s why they play the games.
The game began, as you might have expected, with the Yankees taking the lead. It happened, as you also might have expected, with large man Giancarlo Stanton hitting a ball very hard. His line-drive leadoff homer off Yacabonis in the second put the Yanks in front.
The top of the third was just bizarre. If I told you that Yacabonis threw only 10 pitches in the frame, you’d think, “Oh, must’ve been a pretty clean inning!” In fact, it was anything but. The Yankees sent six batters to the plate — four of whom put the first pitch in play — and scored a pair of runs. Kyle Higashioka doubled on the first pitch; Tyler Wade singled on the next.
With runners on the corners, the Orioles pulled off a nifty defensive play (which, for the 2018 Orioles, is akin to seeing a unicorn). First baseman Trey Mancini fielded Aaron Hicks’ bouncer, stepped on the bag, and threw to the plate before Higashioka made it home. The O’s got him in a rundown and eventually tagged him out to complete the double play.
One out away from escaping the jam unscathed, though, Yacabonis coughed up a first-pitch RBI single to Aaron Judge. And no sooner had MASN analyst Jim Palmer finished lambasting left fielder Joey Rickard for missing the cutoff man (allowing Judge to advance to second) than Didi Gregorius singled up the middle to plate Judge. 3-0, Yankees.
We’ve seen this story before. The Orioles fall into an early hole, their offense does nothing, and they limp to yet another uninspired defeat. Pack it up, fellas. Time to go home. I’m outta here. (storms off)
(returns a minute later)
Uh, I’ve just been told that there’s been a development. Apparently the Orioles did NOT just limp to an uninspired defeat, and DID actually score some runs. Hey, cool!
For three innings, the O’s were stifled by familiar opponent CC Sabathia, who was making his 43rd career start against them. In the fourth, though, they began to peck away. A Manny Machado one-out double was followed by a Mark Trumbo jumbo into the left-field seats, cutting the Yanks’ lead to one. Sabathia labored for 31 pitches in the inning, and seemed none too pleased with the tight strike zone of plate umpire John Tumpane, but he stranded the bases loaded on a Caleb Joseph groundout.
On the Orioles’ side, Yacabonis left the game after five innings, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out five. He was replaced by Mike Wright Jr., who has quietly pitched pretty well of late (a 1.44 ERA since May 13) but here gave up a run on a Neil Walker RBI single.
Just as quickly as the Yankees gave him an insurance run, Sabathia gave it back...and more. The bottom of the sixth started with a Trumbo walk and a Jonathan Schoop double, bringing up Danny Valencia, who’d been starting to ruin his trade value with an 0-for-25 drought. No more! Valencia crushed a three-run homer to straightaway center, instantly putting the Orioles on top, 5-4. Trade value restored, and a nice O’s comeback was complete.
But I’ve seen this story before. The O’s manage to carry a rare lead into the late innings, only for the bullpen and/or defense to completely implode and cough up the whole thing. A tale as old as time. Nothing more to say. I’m leaving. (storms off)
(returns a minute later)
Wait, what? The Orioles actually held on to the lead? Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Kudos, gents!
Wright, now pitching with a lead, worked a superb seventh inning. He racked up two strikeouts, capped by a 98-mph fastball that blew away Judge. Mychal Givens followed suit with a perfect, two-strikeout inning of his own, setting the stage for Zach Britton in the ninth.
It’s no secret that Britton has been shaky this season. His last save opportunity came against the Mariners, when he blew a two-run lead in a game the O’s eventually lost.
He got off to a shaky start this time around when Miguel Andujar led off with a single on a trickler up the middle that Machado probably should’ve corraled. Britton then uncorked a wild pitch to move Andujar into scoring position with nobody out. Brandon Drury advanced him to third on a groundout.
Britton, though, flashed some vintage 2016 magic to escape the jam. He struck out Higashioka on a deadly sinker on a 3-2 count, then induced a routine Brett Gardner grounder to first.
And that’ll do it. The Orioles win! They snapped their six-game losing streak and improved to 25-65 with another game left to play tonight. Sleep fast. Actually, don’t sleep, the game starts in like 10 minutes.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Monday, July 9 (game one)?
This poll is closed
Zach Britton (redeemed himself for his second save)
Mark Trumbo (reached base twice, two-run HR)
Danny Valencia (game-winning three-run HR)