Last night, the Orioles offense produced eight runs, but the team did not pitch well enough to win. This evening, the pitching was there, but the offense failed to pull their own weight. That’s the way this season has gone for Baltimore.
Aaron Hicks took a 2-2 slider and drove it down the left field line for a walk-off double. Paul Fry allowed a leadoff single to Didi Gregorius, before Hicks delivered with one out.
Earlier in the at bat, Hicks fouled a nearly identical slider off his own foot. Hicks went down, took a few moments to collect himself, but eventually stayed in the game and produced the game winner for New York.
With the win, the Yankees clinched a spot in the 2018 playoffs. They still need to win a few more games to ensure home field advantage in the American League Wild Card game. The Red Sox have already clinched the AL East.
The loss wiped out an impressive pitching performance by the Orioles. David Hess gutted his way through five innings. The rookie allowed two runs on four hits, struck out five, and walked four.
Hess walked Andrew McCutchen and Aaron Judge in consecutive at bats with one out in the fifth. The righty got Gregorius to fly out to left, and used his 93rd pitch of the night to strike out Giancarlo Stanton to end the threat.
Miguel Castro replaced Hess and tossed two scoreless innings. He only allowed one hit and struck out a batter. Tanner Scott followed Castro with a scoreless inning with one strikeout of his own.
The Orioles turned to Mychal Givens late in the game, and he delivered. The Orioles de facto closer did not allow a hit, and struck out two in two innings. Fry picked up his second loss of the season after the RBI double from Hicks. Tommy Kahnle won the game in relief for New York.
The Yankees struck first with a pair of runs via the long ball in the second inning. Hicks blasted a 354-foot home run to right field to get things started. After Miguel Andujar was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, Luke Voit crushed a 91-MPH, four-seem fastball 430 feet to center field.
The Orioles got on the board the following inning thanks to a throwing error by Yankee catcher Gary Sanchez. Breyvic Valera singled to center, and Steve Wilkerson followed with a single of his own. With two on, Cedric Mullins hit a dribbler in front of the plate, and Sanchez misfired to first base. Valera came around to score, but Wilkerson was gunned down trying to score. Still, the Yankees’ lead was cut in half.
Wilkerson managed to get himself thrown out at home twice in one night, an impressive feat for the young Oriole. After a one-out double in the fifth, the infielder tried to score on a Caleb Joseph single to right. Aaron Judge fired a perfect, one-hop throw to nail Wilkerson at the plate. After Judge applied the tag, Wilkerson pounded his right fist into the ground like, well, like a guy that had just been thrown out at home for the second time in five innings.
The Orioles still managed to tie things up in the fifth frame. Cedric Mullins drove a ball to right field that dropped in for a singled and advanced Joseph to third. DJ Stewart followed with a single up the middle that easily plated Joseph.
While Baltimore’s bullpen dominated, the Orioles had multiple opportunities to take the lead. Trey Mancini led off the sixth inning with a double, but he never reached home plate. After Wilkerson worked a two-out walk, Joseph flew out to center to end the threat.
Joseph singled again with two down in the ninth, and was replaced by Jace Peterson. Peterson broke for second, and a replay review determined that he beat the throw from Sanchez. With a pinch runner in scoring position, Mullins grounded out to end the inning.
The Orioles should have taken the lead in the tenth inning. Stewart led of the inning with a double, and he advanced to third on an infield single by Jonathan Villar. Villar stole second without a throw, and the Orioles had two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Adam Jones grounded out to short on a ball hit sharply enough that Stewart could not score.
The Yankees intentionally walked Mancini to load the bases for Chris Davis. Davis lined out to first, and Valera hit a pop fly to second that ended the inning. At the time, it certainly felt like the Orioles had squandered their best chance to win the game. They had.
The Orioles watched the Yankees celebrate clinching a playoff berth, but New York still needs to clinch home field advantage. It’s not much, but maybe the Birds can help spoil those plans with Alex Cobb on the mound tomorrow afternoon.