Aren’t sports the worst sometimes? Monday night’s game was a metaphorical kick in the balls, a gutcheck of the cruelest sort. For five innings, a scrappy underdog traded blows with the heavyweight champ, then collapsed to the mat. OK, the Orioles’ five-run rally in the sixth strains the KO metaphor a bit, but in the end, Lady Luck, Didi Gregorius, and our terrible bullpen combined forces to snatch this one away.
This one had its own painful rhythm to it. The Orioles would get right to the edge of scoring, get shut out, then the Yankees would ram a run down their throats.
Masahiro Tanaka may be an evil wizard, but his mistakes were ones that a great team would expose pretty quickly. As it was, even the Orioles got close. After two quick strikeouts in the first, Tanaka left up the first of a bevy of hung sliders that Anthony Santander drove over Aaron Judge’s head for a double. Still looking glitchy, Tanaka got Núñez to ground out.
In the second, Ynoa got two loud flyouts from Mike Ford and Brett Gardner, but catcher Austin Romine roped a line drive that juuuust cleared the left-field wall. Did it hurt less because it was a cheapie? Maybe. 1-0 MFY.
In the bottom half, Tanaka hung another slider, this time to Hanser Alberto, with the same result: double. Unfortunately, Sisco grounded out weakly and Davis hit a liner into the voracious shift monster.
The Orioles put more wood on Tanaka in the third. A sliding Breyvic Valera (remember him? he’s good now) denied Wilkerson a single. Villar drove another hanging slider over Gardner’s head for a triple. On another slider, Mancini tied it up with a single. The Orioles were cooking now! Ah, wait. Santander flicked his second double over Gardner’s head, but third-base coach José Flores sent the slow-footed Mancini from first, who got nailed at the plate. (Was it a bad send? A ball past the outfielders should normally score a runner on first, but on the replay, the shortstop Gregorius already had the ball in his glove while Mancini was being waved around third. So … yes.)
After another three-up, three-down inning for Ynoa, things got even crazier in the fourth. Peterson carefully worked a leadoff walk, then proceeded to make himself a huge headache for Tanaka. He advanced to second on a wild pitch. He drew a throw from Romine that sailed into centerfield to make it to third. Chris Davis walked. Then—a double steal! Not so fast. Another Gregorius bullet, another Bird struck down at the plate. On the replay, Peterson’s foot was clearly in. Trey Mancini vocalized what I was feeling at the time, bounding out of the dugout shouting expletives. Thank you, Trey. Do the Yankees really need to be gifted runs?
It was extra painful because the Yankees proceeded to score three on Ynoa in the fifth. Gardner and Mike Tauchman (Ford is the heavyset one; Tauchman has the eyebrows) singled. Valera struck a painful blow, driving one into the corner to score two. LeMahieu hit a routine grounder to Villar, who did not throw a bullet home like his Yankees counterpart. Valera scored to make it 4-1.
It was bum luck for Ynoa, who had sailed through the third and fourth like a champ with good command and movement. And now all he’ll have is an unflattering box score and all his great valour and gumption will be lost to history. Branden Kline came in, unable to locate, but he got Torres chasing to end the inning.
Then, more pain in the bottom of the fifth. Villar laced a sneak double, catching Judge napping. (Tanaka’s look of quiet disgust made me laugh out loud.) With two outs, Santander hit a sinking line drive to right. Judge made a diving catch to rob him of the RBI, and the Orioles of yet another run.
Did you spot the pattern yet? Good stuff or not, Branden Kline wasn’t fooling anybody tonight. He got torched by Gardner and Tauchman for consecutive home runs. With that, the Orioles “seized” the record of most multi-home run consecutive games. But wait.
In the sixth, the evil sorcerer’s magic finally ran out. With Renato aboard, Jace Peterson launched a two-run homer, perhaps to take out his frustration at that tag at the plate. (What a game it was for Peterson, who ran, hit, and fielded well, including a Machadoesque bare-handed snag in the third.) A limp Chance Sisco perked up enough to double down the line, the Birds’ fourth consecutive hit. Davis hit a deep sac fly to center, but even that felt like a denial, because it really could have been a double. Tanaka got yanked for Tommy Kahnle, who hung a changeup that Villar drove out of there. Take that—we can hit them, too! As the dust settled on that crazy rally, it was now a tie game, 6-6.
Could the Birds hold on and finally take the lead? No. No, you know perfectly well that they couldn’t. After a nice 1.1 innings from Givens, Paul Fry came in for a lefty-lefty matchup against Ford. As if on cue came Dong No. 4. Fry wasn’t done! Mike with the Eyebrows homered, too. 9-6 MFY.
We can jump quickly over the rest. A nifty Villar-Alberto double play got Yacabonis out of the ninth (but why was he in there, is the question). Meanwhile, somehow wasted in all of this were twelve Orioles hits, including Villar hitting for the cycle. So that’s neat.
This one was gonna be hard enough for Baltimore to pull out without three runs saved by defensive plays, but to go down this way hurt.