I believe it was the wise philosopher Thanos who once said, “I am inevitable.”
This isn’t even a competition. The Yankees can always deliver the big hit, or the clutch RBI, while the Orioles always manage to do exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. Nothing can be done to stop it. In this case, it was a Mychal Givens ninth-inning meltdown, handing the Yankees a 6-5 win with a bases-loaded walk just minutes after the O’s had finally showed signs of life.
New York left Oriole killers Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez out of the starting lineup and won. The Yankees coughed up a four-run lead in the eighth inning and still won. There was no other possible outcome. The Birds, for the third straight series against the Yankees, were swept, flitting into Baltimore to go winless in four games before hitting the road again.
The O’s actually took the first lead in this contest. They made Masahiro Tanaka labor for 31 pitches in the second inning, though they only managed one run through it all. After a Renato Nunez leadoff single, Rio Ruiz hit a sharp comebacker that deflected off Tanaka’s glove, perhaps giving him nasty flashbacks of the Yandy Diaz shot off his right shin in his previous start. Panicked, Tanaka threw the ball wildly past first base, putting Orioles on second and third base. A Chris Davis walk loaded the bases, and after a popout, Richie Martin beat out a potential double play grounder to bring home a run.
If it hasn’t already been said, Brian Roberts has been doing excellent color commentary work on O’s broadcasts. When the speedy Martin came to the plate, Roberts registered his surprise that the Yankees’ infield was playing so far back, noting that it’d be tough to turn the double play. Sure enough, on Martin’s hot-shot smoker to DJ LeMahieu at second, shortstop Thairo Estrada took a step too long to get to the bag, ruining any chance of turning two.
For a while, it looked like Dylan Bundy might make the one-run lead stand up. The right-hander was cruising, mixing his fastball with an effective changeup to keep Yankee hitters off balance. He racked up three strikeouts in his first three innings, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced, then erased a leadoff single in the fourth on a double play.
But these are the kinds of games where, even when things are temporarily going the Orioles’ way, you’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because it will. It always does. It is inevitable. Sure enough, the Yankees tied the game in the fifth on — what else? — a home run. Even with Torres and Sanchez out of the lineup, don’t forget that Clint Frazier has been an Oriole destroyer, too, and he crushed a solo homer off Bundy.
That was Frazier’s ninth home run of the year, six of which have come against the Orioles. So in case you’re keeping tabs on the Frazier/Torres/Sanchez triumvirate, a whopping 69 percent of their home runs in 2019 have come against the Orioles. Not nice. Not nice at all.
From there, the game took a turn for the worse for a few innings. Bundy ran out of gas in the sixth when, with two outs and a runner aboard, he allowed a Luke Voit double and a Kendrys Morales walk to load the bases. Brandon Hyde gave Bundy a chance to pitch out of the jam, a decision that backfired when Gio Urshela ripped a go-ahead, two-run single to left.
With that, Bundy’s day was done, an otherwise strong performance soured by a final-inning collapse. The Yankees then took advantage of the shoddy O’s bullpen, plating a run off Paul Fry in the seventh and another off Miguel Castro in the eighth, the latter on a Voit home run.
Meanwhile, Tanaka had settled down for the Yankees. Despite his early laboring, he ended up working six innings, helped out by a six-pitch fifth inning and a 10-pitch sixth. The Orioles entered the bottom of the eighth inning trailing, 5-1, and all hope seemed lost.
And then something amazing happened.
In the eighth, the O’s offense pulled off one of its most inspired comebacks of the season. A wild Jonathan Holder walked the first two batters of the inning, and Trey Mancini ripped an RBI single to make it 5-2 and summon Tommy Kahnle from the bullpen.
The second batter Kahnle faced was Nunez, who swatted a line drive that just kept carrying...and carrying...and sailed over the fence! Wow! Three-run homer, Renato Nunez, and with one swing, the Orioles had tied the game at five. Incredible! Improbable! Inconceivable!
...and, ultimately, immaterial. Because no sooner had the O’s injected life into their fans with their late rally than they immediately dashed all that good will, suffering through a painful ninth inning that reminded everyone that they’re still the 2019 Orioles.
Mychal Givens, called upon to protect the tie, made short work of the first two batters before everything fell apart. Aaron Boone sent up Torres as a pinch-hitter and Givens, understandably, was not anxious to give him anything to hit, ultimately walking him on a full count. The Yankees continued the fearsome 1-2 punch with Sanchez pinch-hitting next, and he lashed a single to right.
That’s when a weary Givens, already at 21 pitches, completely lost the strike zone. He walked LeMahieu on four pitches, none of them close, then fell behind Aaron Hicks 3-0 while nearly hitting him a couple times. It’s fair to question why Hyde was sticking with a clearly rattled and control-challenged Givens, but here we are.
Givens battled back with two strikes to Hicks, but then threw ball four way outside. That forced home Torres with the go-ahead run. Simply an embarrassing way to let a game slip away after all the scraping and clawing the Orioles did to battle back in the late innings.
Former Oriole Zack Britton handled the bottom of the ninth for New York, ending the game on a Jonathan Villar double play, and that’ll do it. It may have been an interesting journey, but the result was the same: an Orioles loss to the Yankees.
It was inevitable.