After the Orioles were blown out in a seven-inning doubleheader yesterday, they found their way to extra innings this afternoon. Hunter Harvey entered to pitch the 10th and immediately fired a wild pitch. A year ago, just a 1-0 count. But with the new rule that has extras begin with a runner on second base, it made all the difference.
The ball skipped through catcher Pedro Severino’s legs and allowed DJ LeMahieu to advance to third without a throw. The Orioles shifted all their fielders in, but Luke Voit drove a ball deep enough to center field to win the game. Cedric Mullins caught the ball, but there was no point in throwing home. The Yankees clinched the series with a 2-1 victory at Yankee Stadium.
Simply put, the Orioles needed to win this game. At 20-25, the Birds are now four games back in the loss column behind the Yankees. New York limped into this four-game series, but picked the right time to right the ship. Meanwhile, the Birds’ bats went silent.
Orioles rookie Dean Kremer gave Baltimore all they could ask for in his second career start. Kremer minimized the damage after allowing a run in the first, and delivered four scoreless after that. A high pitch count (99 pitches, 58 strikes) prevented Kremer from returning in the sixth, but the 24-year-old provided the O’s a chance to win the ball game.
Dillon Tate and Tanner Scott teamed up for a clean sixth, and then Cesar Valdez went to work. Valdez soft tossed his way through three scoreless to carry the Orioles to extras. Valdez allowed just one hit, struck out one, and removed any sense of rhythm from the Yankees’ lineup.
Baltimore struggled to break through against New York starter Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery struck out a career-high nine batters, while Baltimore appeared lost at the plate through the first five frames.
Hanser Alberto kicked off the only impression of a rally the Orioles had in the sixth inning. He laced a lead-off single to left and wisely took second base after Brett Gardner bobbled the ball. Ryan Mountcastle popped a pitch into no man’s land in shallow center, and Alberto came around to tie the game.
Mountcastle doubled in the eighth, but Severino bounced out to end the inning. The Birds went quietly in the ninth inning.
Brandon Hyde sent Andrew Velazquez to pinch run to begin the 10th. Velazquez advanced on a ground ball hit by Rio Ruiz, and the O’s quickly had a man on third with less than two outs. Mullins lined out to second base, and Alberto popped out to end the inning. Baltimore failed to take advantage.
The Orioles failure to score early did them in. Montgomery had not won a game in over a month, and held a 6.11 ERA over his last four starts. It’s one thing to be silenced by Gerrit Cole, but the bats picked a poor time to go quiet. Former Oriole Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman kept the O’s off the board, and Jonathan Holder did his part in the 10th to earn the win.
DJ Stewart cannot go deep every game, and Anthony Santander has officially been ruled out for the season. If the Orioles have any interest in making things interesting, they’ll need a spark tomorrow.
Kremer struggled with his control at times and did not benefit from a slightly smaller strike zone. Still, it’s extremely encouraging to watch a pitching prospect arrive and keep the Yankees in check twice in one week. While this weekend might end the O’s aspirations this season, any strong performance from a young arm is worth appreciating.
The Yankees committed three errors and tallied only five hits in the contest. If the Orioles want to make up ground, they simply cannot let opportunities like this slip away. Baltimore responded with only four hits. Mountcastle finished 2-4, while Alberto and José Iglesias added the other two.
John Means will take the ball tomorrow afternoon and try to prevent a four game sweep. Means delivered six strong innings against the Mets his last time out. With the Orioles offense currently hibernating, he’ll need his A game to play stopper tomorrow.