The Orioles and Yankees faced off tonight in the second game of their three-game series and the results were pretty much what everyone expected. With Gerrit Cole on the mound for the Yankees, the Orioles never had a chance at the plate. The pitching wasn’t so great either, but a ninth-inning homer by Rio Ruiz saved the team from being shut out and the final score was a 7-2 Orioles loss.
The only real excitement against Cole came in the very first inning. Leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins lined a single up the middle, stole second base, and moved to third on a wild pitch all with no outs. It seemed possible the Orioles might actually score a run! But alas, they did not. Trey Mancini struck out and Anthony Santander hit a hard ground ball to first base. The Yankees infield was playing in, though, and with Mullins running on contact he was gunned down at the plate. Ryan Mountcastle popped out to end the inning. So much for that run.
Cole wasn’t perfect after that, he allowed one hit in each of the second, third, and fourth innings, but he struck out so many around them that it hardly mattered. After giving up a leadoff single to Mountcastle in the fourth inning, Cole retired 12 in row to get through the seventh inning and end his night.
Gerrit Cole is very good at striking batters out and the Orioles are very good at striking out. That combo led to 13 Ks for Cole. He didn’t walk a batter and gave up just four hits. One of those hits was a double to Trey Mancini, but it was really a fly ball that just fell in on the foul line in right field and bounced into the stands. The Orioles just had no answers for him.
Unfortunately, tonight’s starter for the Orioles wasn’t quite as good. Dean Kremer had a rough go from the get go. After a single from DJ LeMahieu to start the first inning, Aaron Judge hit a line drive back up the middle at 110 mph that ricocheted off of Kremer’s butt/hamstring. It looked like it hurt, and Kremer seemed pretty shaken up. He walked it off and he shook out his leg and he threw a few warm up pitches while the always classy Yankee fans booed him for being maybe injured.
Ultimately Kremer stayed in the game but he immediately walked Brett Gardner to load the bases with no outs. I sighed, imagining myself watching an entire baseball game that began with Giancarlo Stanton getting his second grand slam in as many days. But surprise! Kremer got out of it. Starting with Stanton, he struck out the next three batters to get out of the inning.
Whew! Crisis averted! Until the next inning at least, when Jay Bruce took advantage of that short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium for his first home run of the year. Kremer retired the side after that, but at the time that one run felt like all the Yankees would need.
After another Houdini act in the third inning where Kremer stranded two more runners, he ran out of gas in the fourth inning. His pitch count was high and he walked the first two batters he faced. Then before anyone could get warmed up in the bullpen, he walked a third. Manager Brandon Hyde (and I) had seen enough, the Kremer was pulled from the game in favor of relief pitcher Adam Plutko.
The last time we saw Plutko, he was pitching in relief of Matt Harvey in game two of the season. Plutko stranded Harvey’s runners and we were all hoping he’d do the same for Kremer. He started things off well with a double play. A run scored but you’ll take that tradeoff, right? But another single made the score 3-0. That gave Kremer a final pitching line of 3 IP plus three batters, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 5 K. Not really what you want to see.
Plutko followed the fourth with two more scoreless innings and it was feeling like maybe this loss wouldn’t be quite as bad as last night. But the Yankees added on another run in the seventh off of rule 5 pick Tyler Wells, then feasted on Wade LeBlanc in the eighth.
LeBlanc was making his first appearance of 2021 and it’s fine with me if it’s his last for awhile. With one out, LeBlanc gave up a single and a double, but was the beneficiary of some good defense when shortstop Freddy Galvis gunned down the runner at the plate on a ground ball.
He just needed one more out to get out of it, but instead he gave up a three-run homer to Aaron Judge to make the score 7-0. It didn’t really matter because the Orioles were never going to come back, but it sure wasn’t fun to watch.
The good thing about about that home run is that before it happened, Darren O’Day was warming up in the bullpen. After the home run made the score 7-0, O’Day sat down and the Yankees brought in some other guy instead. I’m not really ready to see Yankee Darren O’Day pitch against the Orioles. So, thanks for that, Wade LeBlanc. I guess.
So that other guy, Lucas Luetge, finished the game for the Yankees and finally we got some excitement. With two outs, Ryan Mountcastle hustled his way to an infield single that was held up on replay even though he looked out to me. The brought Rio Ruiz to the plate. Rio delighted us all with the first Orioles home run of the year, which also happened to be the first FU homer of the year as well. Well done, Rio!
The rally continued with a double by Maikel Franco, but Freddy Galvis struck out to end the fun.
The Orioles and Yankees play the final game tomorrow at 6:30 with the Orioles looking to John Means to help avoid the sweep. Please pitch well, John Means! I’ve seen enough carnage to last me a few days.