This weekend’s series against the Yankees is the biggest the Orioles will play all year as the short season comes to a close. Hopes were high that the Birds could win this series to continue with their playoff hopes, but that hope came crashing down in today’s ugly doubleheader sweep.
After losing game one in decisive fashion, the Orioles couldn’t bounce back to salvage the day in game two. Things fell apart in the very first inning due to rookie Keegan Akin’s shaky pitching and a complete lack of fundamentals from the defense behind him. Things got even worse after he left, leading to at 10-1 loss for the Orioles.
Today’s two losses puts the Orioles 3.5 games behind the Yankees for the final playoff spot with only 16 games left to play. They’ll have to win the final two games of the series just to get back to where they were this morning.
Let’s jump into the grisly details. I know I’ve been all doom and gloom so far but the Orioles actually took the lead first in this game! D.J. Stewart, who has been making the most of his newly found playing time, hit his 6th home run of the season in the top of first to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. That guy just keeps hitting home runs! It could have been a two-run homer, but Cedric Mullins got thrown out stealing just before the homer.
The Stewart-induced high didn’t last long. Akin gave up a walk and a single to put two runners on immediately, then induced a fly ball to Ryan Mountcastle in left field. DJ LeMahieu, the runner at second, tested the rookie by tagging up right in front of him to get to third. Mountcastle’s throw wasn’t great, but it got to third base in time. But for some reason, Rio Ruiz was positioned behind third base and the tag couldn’t be made.
The next batter, Clint Frazier, hit a ground ball to shortstop José Iglesias. Instead of going to first base to get the out, Iglesias made a terrible throw home. The runner was safe, no out was obtained, I screamed at the TV, my kid started crying. It was a bad scene. And it was not over.
Gleyber Torres singled to center to knock in another run. On the throw home, Torres took second base. By the way, Torres is wearing glasses now. Does that mean he wasn’t seeing the ball that well BEFORE?? He and Frazier scored easily on the double from Miguel Andújar to make the score 4-1.
Before being removed from the game, Akin was allowed to strike out Gary Sánchez for the second out. He was pulled at that point with 39 pitches thrown in just 2⁄3 of an inning. Travis Lakins got the final out of the first.
It looked like the Orioles might fight back immediately against Masahiro Tanaka, but they failed. Ruiz singled and Renato Núñez was hit by a pitch, but the next three batters couldn’t get knock them in. Hanser Alberto hit a fly ball that advanced Ruiz, but then the next batter up was Chris Davis. WHYYYYY. NOOOOO. I cannot with Chris Davis! It is NOT ok!
I will give you one chance to guess what he did. Go ahead. Think about it. Take your time.
He struck out! Just swung pathetically through strike three. The weeks we had without Davis in the lineup were truly a blessing. #9 hitter Chance Sisco also struck out and the inning was over.
It was all Tanaka after that. Starting with the Alberto fly out, Tanaka retired the final 12 batters he faced in the game. That took him through the fifth inning, where he was relieved by Luis Cessa. Stewart got to Cessa for a two-out double but couldn’t score.
As for the Orioles pitchers? Well...Lakins pitched two more good innings after bailing out Akin in the first. But then it was time for Asher Wojciechowski. It did not go well for Wojo. The first five batters he faced went like this: walk, single, three-run homer, double, walk. Not great! At that point the score was 7-1 and the Yankees looked poised for more with Torres coming to the plate.
Finally, the defense came through! Torres hit a ball deep into the hole at shortstop. Iglesias made a leaping throw to second to start a double play. It was quite a play. An Andújar pop out and Asher was out of it.
Except he wasn’t really out of it, because he did almost the same thing in the fifth inning! He gave up a single and a walk, then got the next two outs to get to Luke Voit. Voit is the guy who hit the home run in the last inning. And he did it again! For variety, Voit hit the first three-run homer to center field and the second to left. And that homer, mercifully, drove Wojo from the game.
A bright spot in tonight’s game was Carson Fulmer. He made his Orioles debut tonight and looked pretty darn good. He struck out Aaron Hicks to finish the fifth inning, then pitched a quick 1-2-3 sixth inning. Here’s to more success for Fulmer in an Orioles uniform.
With a huge lead after six innings, the Yankees turned to Brooks Kriske, their 29th man for the doubleheader, for the seventh. Kriske wasn’t perfect. But when you have a nine-run lead to work with, it doesn’t really matter if you walk the leadoff guy. He then struck out Bryan Holaday and Pat Valaika, but in a moral victory Chris Davis only grounded out to end the game.