Two things have been constant during the 2018 Orioles season. The first, and the biggest, is that they are a bad baseball team with bad players who are playing badly, the result of a bad front office plan that has now been blown apart at the trade deadline. The second thing is that despite how bad they are, they are regularly able to summon otherwise unseen reserves of competence in order to take a bite out of the Yankees.
Wednesday’s finale to the brief two-game series was another one of these games. The Orioles survived a late Yankees rally to pick up a 7-5 win, their sixth beating of the Yankees in twelve tries this season. The Yankees are playing well over .600 baseball, while the Orioles are barely over a .300 winning percentage, and the two teams are .500 against one another. This fact will remain hilarious for as long as it is true.
It was the kind of game where the Yankees faithful were booing their team before the end of the second inning. With starting pitcher Sonny Gray, last year’s big trade addition, turning in yet another clunker, the impulse is understandable. They expect better from the Yankees, especially against a bad team like the Orioles.
Gray’s troubles began in the top of the second inning. Beginning with Danny Valencia’s leadoff single, five straight Orioles safely reached base. This included catcher Caleb Joseph reaching on a bunt single because nobody covered first base in time, as well as third baseman Renato Núñez doubling over the head of Yankees right fielder Shane Robinson to drive in two runs.
When the boo birds came out for Gray after five runs scored in the inning, MASN’s Jim Palmer remarked, “They’d better boo their first baseman and right fielder, too.” Maybe they were booing everyone and everything.
The inning only came to an end when Tim Beckham was doubled off of second base on a textbook TOOTBLAN (thrown out on the basepaths like a nincompoop). With Beckham on second base and Jace Peterson on first and one out, Adam Jones lined a ball to right field that hung for the fielder. Peterson was far off first base, so the Yankees threw the ball in to try to double him up. The ball skipped past first base towards the catcher, who was backing up the play.
Somehow, Beckham still had not returned safely to second base. What was he thinking? We may never know. What is certain is that nincompoopery was afoot and an already lopsided inning was kept from being made moreso.
Staked to a 5-0 lead, Orioles starting pitcher Alex Cobb promptly gave up a home run to the first batter he saw in the bottom of the inning. This was Gleyber Torres, who is good, so it’s not the most shameful thing, but for the O’s fan who has watched enough of the season, this was one of those, “Oh, well, of course THAT happened” moments.
When Cobb went on to load the bases over the course of the innings with three singles, two of which did not leave the infield, I think we all knew how that was going to end, especially with Giancarlo Stanton batting. Instead, Cobb struck out Stanton to end the inning and the Orioles went on to score two more against Gray in the next inning.
After the second inning rally, the Yankees never threatened Cobb seriously. He cruised from there through six innings, mostly scattering seven hits, with just the one run allowed. Cobb walked none and struck out six. The guy the Orioles hoped they were signing at the end of spring training looks something like that. Hopefully, they will see him a bit more often.
This should have been the kind of game where the O’s could cruise to the finish line, but it’s still 2018, even and perhaps especially against the Yankees. There was bullpen drama. None of that was the fault of new Orioles reliever Cody Carroll, called up for this series and making his MLB debut. Carroll, acquired in the Zach Britton trade, tossed a scoreless inning with one hit allowed in his debut. Nice work for him. With the bullpen emptied out in July, we may be seeing more of him.
The drama struck in the eighth inning, when Mychal Givens managed to load the bases with no one out and load them again after getting one out with a run scored. The tying run was suddenly on deck, but Paul Fry came in and wiped out the budding Yankees rally.
The O’s left Fry on to try to finish off the game and there was some more drama. Fry got two outs in the ninth inning but also allowed two men to reach base. With the right-handed Torres due back up, Buck Showalter called on Mike Wright Jr., who had allowed just three runs in his last 19.2 innings, to close things down. Wright instead gave up a three-run dinger to Torres. Oops. So the Yankees pulled the deficit to 7-5, but they got no closer than that. The Orioles were back in the win column.
This was a good game for the Orioles. All nine starting batters had a hit, with four O’s picking up multi-hit games as part of a 15 hit barrage. Trey Mancini and Núñez had three hits apiece. Jones added to a hitting streak that’s now at 11 straight games. The O’s were clutch overall, going 5-10 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees were probably counting on two easy wins against the Orioles and they only got one. Too bad, so sad.
Not that pitcher wins and losses matter, but Cobb was able to get the win for the first time since June 5 and just the third time all year. He lost all five of his July decisions despite a non-horrible (but not great) 4.34 ERA in the month.
Unrelated to anything else that I mentioned up until now, this is a thing that happened in this game:
The Windmill strikes again. The product was funnier than most this time, especially since the Orioles were up 7-1 at the time and did not lose the game.
From New York, the Orioles will now head to Texas for a four-game set against the Rangers. Former Ranger Andrew Cashner pitches the Thursday 8:05 opener against former Oriole Yovani Gallardo.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for August 1, 2018?
This poll is closed
Alex Cobb (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO
Adam Jones (11 game hitting streak, generally the man)
Trey Mancini (three hits, two runs driven in)
Renato Núñez (also three hits, two runs driven in)