Welcome back to earth, folks.
The Orioles were riding high after a three game sweep in Fenway park to start the season. Unfortunately, the Yankees delivered a heavy dose of reality to the Birds this evening.
The Yankees scored twice on a solo shot and four consecutive walks, but Giancarlo Stanton broke the game open with a moonshot in the fifth. To be fair, the four consecutive walks were probably an ominous sign. Regardless, the Yankees dominated Baltimore in a 7-0 victory.
Orioles starter Jorge López matched zeros with Yankees hurler Jordan Montgomery through the first four innings, but Montgomery never relinquished his grasp of the game. López, on the other hand, eventually ran into some trouble.
Aaron Judge took a 94 mph fastball the other way and sent it over the short porch in right field. The blast gave the Yankees a one-run lead and they never looked back.
López responded by generating a line out, ground out and strikeout to end the fourth, but the 28-year-old lost his control in the fifth. López walked Jay Bruce on five pitches to start the frame, but induced a pair of ground balls to pick up two quick outs. López put another man on when he walked DJ LeMahieu, and the second base on balls sparked a meeting on the mound. López showed little interest in pitching to Judge, and the third walk of the inning brought Brandon Hyde to the mound.
Hyde summoned reliever Shawn Armstrong to face Aaron Hicks with the bases juiced. Armstrong missed the first three games on paternity leave, but Hyde elected to throw him to the fire. Armstrong fell behind in the count before evening things up with a pair of strikes. Hicks checked his swing on the next pitch, but the third base umpire ruled he did not offer. Armstrong eventually lost him, walking in the second run of the game.
Armstrong remained in the game to face Stanton. Stanton took a strike before blasting an absolute no doubter 471 feet from home plate. The ball was gone the second it hit the bat, and so were the Orioles’ chances of winning the game.
If you thought we’d make it past the first loss of the season before second guessing bullpen decisions, you thought better of me. Summoning Armstrong in that situation during his first game back was a tough ask of the reliever.
Jim Palmer pointed out during the MASN broadcast that Armstrong may not have thrown a side session recently after being away from the team. Either way, the Orioles plan to lean on Armstrong to get difficult outs this season. He’s given an opportunity to shake of some rust in a perfect world, but this is the big leagues.
The six run lead felt unsurmountable with Baltimore’s bats falling silent. Montgomery allowed just four hits and struck out seven over six frames. Luis Cessa struck out three of the seven batters he faced, and Aroldis Chapman shut the door in a non save situation.
The Orioles’ one shining moment came with the debut of Rule-5 selection Max Sceroler. Sceroler entered the game after Paul Fry allowed the seventh run of the game. Sceroler jogged to the mound with the bases loaded and a 6’7 Judge awaiting him at home plate.
Unlike Armstrong, Sceroler answered the call. Judge worked the count full, but Sceroler froze him with a 94 MPH fastball for the third strike. Hicks followed with the bases still loaded, but Sceroler forced a pop out in foul territory to end the inning. Not bad for your big league debut, rookie!
Sceroler continued to deal in the seventh while his Uncle Ben McDonald zoomed into the MASN broadcast. Sceroler’s connection to McDonald has been written about before, but there was still something charming about the way McDonald spoke about his nephew. The Orioles’ former top pick truly sounded like a proud uncle as he shared stories of watching and working with Sceroler over the years.
Sceroler showed some fatigue after issuing a pair of walks in the eighth, but rebounded by striking out Mike Tauchman to end the inning. His final line read 2.2 innings, 0 hits, 2 BB and 4 K. That’s a memorable debut at Yankee Stadium.
Sceroler may have been the story, but he was not the only prospect to make his major league debut. Outfielder Ryan McKenna started for the first time and played right field after Austin Hays was scratched with a sore hamstring. Baltimore transferred Hays to the 10-day injured list, while McKenna went 0-2 with a walk and a strikeout.
Cedric Mullins finished 1-4 today after a scorching start to the season. The Orioles tallied just four hits all game.
Baltimore had to lose a game eventually. The fact that it came against the Yankees with Jorge López on the mound really should not come as a surprise. Still, the Orioles still have an opportunity to take the series in New York and continue their strong start. Dean Kremer will look to channel his previous success against the Yankees tomorrow while New York counters with ace Gerrit Cole.