It was a tale of opposites coming into this game: the Yankees sitting pretty in first place in the AL East, and 7-3 over their last ten games; the Orioles 2-8 in their last ten, hanging around in last place. It’s a good thing baseball games are less predictable than, say, the Game of Thrones finale (zing!).
Well, that doesn’t mean they end any happier. For GOT fans, the more apt comparison is the Red Wedding, and I’d say even that was a delight to watch compared to Monday night’s meltdown.
If we’re pressing the literary metaphor, the genre of today’s contest was tragicomedy. An Orioles offense that couldn’t buy a hit last week had an orgy of extrabase knocks (eight, for 25 total bases). Offensive replacement Hanser Alberto had two—count ‘em, two—webgems. In the fifth inning, Pedro Severino got plunked on the hand by reliever Luis Cessa, then didn’t, then drew a walk anyway. So did Stevie Wilkerson. Then Joey Rickard did get plunked. Then the free gifts led to nothing, anyway. And after losing his HBP, a battered Severino kept taking hard knocks all game, including a foul ball off the ankle.
Another farcical moment: Dwight Smith Jr. manufactured a critical Yankees run in the seventh on an Aaron Hicks flyout that the runner on third wasn’t even running on. DSJ got a running start under the ball, leapt, and lobbed a throw way up the first baseline. The Yankees scored their fifth run, and nobody even got an RBI. Two sac flies later, including the tying seventh run in the ninth, it seemed clear that the only real Orioles outfielder can’t manage a throw anywhere near the vicinity of the plate.
The biggest joke of the day, of course, was that a game that was supposed to be all wrapped up when the Orioles took a 6-1 lead into the sixth ended up as an embarrassing collapse. This, of course, is because of the big joke that is the Orioles’ bullpen.
Andrew Cashner is what passes for an ace on this staff, and tonight, he looked pretty good for about five innings. Reaching back to a happier place in the evening, I did enjoy watching Cashner work with five pitches tonight: a four-seam fastball that was consistently around 95 mph, a two-seamer that looked like a changeup, a changeup that looked like a slider, a slider that looked like a curve, and a curve that, frankly, wasn’t his greatest pitch. It was in the second inning that Gleyber Torres came to the plate looking totally blinded by the setting sun, then immediately launched one such curve into center to put the Yankees on the board. (Was he trolling us?) 2-1 Orioles.
Cashner cruised for several innings, then crashed to earth in the sixth, giving up an RBI single to Gary Sánchez and an RBI groundout to Kendrys Morales. At this point it was still 6-3 Orioles.
Brandon Kline came on in the seventh, and he looked—how should I put this? Terrible. Kline could not find the strike zone today, giving up a single to Gio Urshela, a walk to Maybin, and an RBI single to DJ LeMahieu to make it 7-4. With one out and men on first and third, Hyde brought in Shawn Armstrong to mop up. Armstrong pitched unremarkably, but the aforementioned DSJ throwing miscue led to Yankees run number five.
Then, more dark humor: to protect a two-run lead in the eighth, Hyde brought in his big gun, Mychal Givens. Givens gave up a home run to Torres on his first pitch. 7-6. But hey—just three more outs. Shouldn’t be too tough, right?
No, nay, nope, negative. Givens looked even worse in the ninth, allowing two consecutive singles before Aaron Hicks drove in the tying run—and a stake through Orioles’ fans hearts—on a sac fly that, as I said, DSJ made a comically bad throw on. Then, tied 7-7 with two outs, Luke Voit hit a towering pop fly behind the plate. Pedro Severino popped up, shed his mask… and got nowhere near the ball, which bounced harmlessly.
The inning should have been over. Instead, the next batter Gary Sánchez took a Givens fastball into the stands to put the game into laugher territory, 10-7.
Possibly the worst part? The chorus of loud Yankees fans on hand cheering the late-innings rally.
Out of a sense of duty and obligation, let me provide some positives out of the fiery heap of ignominy that was this game:
• The Orioles tagged a crappy-looking Happ for six runs in four innings;
• Hanser Alberto had a 4-for-5 day, and is hitting over .400 against lefties;
• DSJ went 3-for-5, and even if his defense wasn’t good, the meltdown wasn’t his fault;
• At least one joke went the Orioles’ way: after DSJ tripled in the sixth, Mancini hit a routine pop-out to Luke Voit, who planted his feet as Mancini ran by—and then let the ball bounce off his glove. Mancini didn’t miss the RBI opportunity on his second try, batting in Orioles run number 7.
Well, there you go: positivity! My heart isn’t exactly in this one, so I’ll go dream of another season where the same game would have ended 7-1.
Also, Cal Ripken Jr. was on hand in the statue pavilion today to sign copies of his new book, Just Show Up. Honestly, I’m going to hope he left early.