Now this was a quick game, even for a seven-inning affair. The first of two tonight against the Yanks was over in two hours and two minutes. The Orioles got dominated in both phases of the game, pitching and hitting.
Baltimore’s bats were cold as ice against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, bringing to mind memories of last Saturday’s game at Camden Yards when he dominated for the first five innings. Unlike that game, there was no drop-off today in the latter innings for Cole, and the early lead built out by the Yankees offense stood up.
Alex Cobb came into the game averaging 1.3 HR/9 this year, while Cole had a much worse number in that department — 2.3. But that didn’t matter, because it was Cobb who fell victim to the long ball early and often.
In the bottom of the first, Yankees leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu gave Cobb a rude welcome back from the injured list, poking a solo home run that just made it over the fence in left. Luke Voit followed with a single to right and advanced to second on a wild pitch before crossing the plate courtesy of a Brett Gardner two-run homer.
Yet another home run just snuck out of the ballpark the very next inning. This one was a two-run shot in the bottom of the second off the bat of Kyle Higashioka, which lengthened the Yankees’ lead to five.
The Birds’ first baserunner of the game was Ryan Mountcastle, who reached via walk with two outs in the fourth. It was his seventh walk in his 18th MLB game and if he were to keep up that pace over the course of 160 games, Mountcastle would gather roughly 62 walks, if my math is correct. Crazy, right? But the Orioles were still hitless when that half-inning came to a close one batter later.
Despite Cobb’s struggles, he was managing to keep a low pitch count, entering the bottom of the fourth having thrown 41 pitches. In his previous outing —which preceded his placement on the injured list — Cobb threw 76 pitches over four innings.
It took him 19 pitches to get through the fourth today against the Yankees, as he struck out three batters in a row following a leadoff single by Mike Tauchman.
The Orioles finally got a hit with two outs in the fifth when Hanser Alberto lined a single into right field. But nothing came of it, with a Pat Valaika come-backer to the pitcher’s mound serving as the third and final out of the inning.
Alex Cobb did not re-emerge from the dugout for the sixth, giving way to swingman Thomas Eshelman. He entered today’s game with a 4.76 ERA in 11.1 innings as a starter and a 3.09 ERA in 11.2 innings as a reliever this season.
The right-hander worked around a walk to complete a scoreless fifth, but the sixth inning proved more treacherous. The first two batters reached on a double and a walk, respectively, before Tauchman came to the plate and dropped a bloop single into center, bringing home the Yankees’ sixth run of the game.
With his pitch count at 99, Gerrit Cole came back out to the mound to start the seventh and potential final inning of the game for the Yanks. He registered two quick outs with a pop-up from Ryan Mountcastle on the first pitch and a three-pitch strikeout of Pedro Severino.
But Renato Nunez wasn’t ready to call it a game, pushing a soft liner past the reach of Gleybor Torres at short and into left field for a single. A weak ground ball in front of homeplate from Rio Ruiz, fielded by Cole himself, served as the final out of the game.
Gerrit Cole was the seven-inning complete game winner, allowing only two hits and one walk while throwing 114 total pitches, including 74 strikes. He also struck out nine.
Oriole starter Alex Cobb took the loss, allowing seven hits, one walk and five earned runs over four innings and 60 pitches (40 strikes). He struck out five and surrendered a total of three home runs.
The only good thing about this game is that the Orioles should have less than an hour until they’re back on the field with a chance to get this bad taste out of their mouths. The Birds will look to Keegan Akin to duplicate the strong effort from the last time he faced the Yanks, while New York will dispatch capable veteran Masahiro Tanaka to the mound in game two.