The play at the plate was bound to go the Orioles’ way sooner or later.
In the 11th, with the Orioles trying to hang on to yet another late lead, it did. D.J. LeMahieu flew to right with one out and Gio Urshela at second, but Anthony Santander’s throw was right on the money, allowing the Orioles to come away with a 4-3 win over the New York Yankees.
It was a long-awaited win for the O’s, as it snapped a 12-game losing streak in Yankee Stadium, and it didn’t come easily. The Orioles lost one-run leads in the bottom of the eighth and 10th innings, with New York getting both tying runs on close plays at home plate.
In the 11th, the Orioles tried again. Freddy Galvis began the top half of the frame by bunting Rio Ruiz to third, and pinch-hitter Chance Sisco dropped a pinch-hit single to left that brought Ruiz in for the 4-3 lead. The O’s had a chance for more when Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini drew bases-loading walks, but a pair of strikeouts ended the threat and forced Baltimore to try to defend the slim advantage.
The Yankees tried the Orioles’ tactic, as Brett Gardner bunted Urshela to third, and LeMahieu hit what first looked like a base hit to right, but became a hard lineout to Santander. Still, the ball looked like it was plenty deep enough to tie the game yet again...until Santander fired a throw to Pedro Severino on a line, on the money, and in plenty of time for a tag on Urshela.
It felt like vindication for the earlier innings. In the eighth, the Orioles were one out away from taking a 2-1 lead into the ninth when Gary Sanchez hit a fly ball to left and Ryan Mountcastle...what’s the best way to describe it...just, didn’t catch it. Missed it altogether. The ball rolled to the wall, but because Sanchez detests running or giving any sort of effort, he managed only a single out of the ordeal.
No matter. Mike Tauchman pinch-ran, Urshela hit a double to left-center field, and the Mountcastle-Galvis-Severino relay was a heartbeat late to nab Tauchman running full speed from first on contact. evening up the score at 2.
It was deja vu all over again in the 10th. This time, it was the Yankees with the mishap, as Pedro Severino hit a two-out grounder to short, but Gleyber Torres’s throw skipped past Jay Bruce at first and allowed Santander to come in and make it 3-2.
Once again, though, the Yankees had the answer. Cesar Valdez (part of an impressive Baltimore bullpen) got two quick outs by fanning Clint Frazier and Bruce, but new catcher Kyle Higashioka singled to right, and Santander’s throw was just a bit tardy to get Tyler Wade at home.
It was a disappointing sequel, but fortunately, Santander prevented the trilogy an inning later.
The Orioles were in a position to win all night even though it was another difficult night at the plate. Baltimore went down in order in the first three innings and six of the first eight, but the fourth was enough for it to gain the upper hand.
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the third when Aaron Hicks singled in Gardner, but the Orioles struck back in their next at-bat. Mullins (who, like Hansel, is so hot right now) cracked a no-doubt home run to right to lead off, and Santander followed two batters later with another shot into the right-field bullpen to put the Orioles ahead 2-1.
There they would stay, thanks to a bullpen that relieved John Means, who was productive but not efficient (4.2 IP, seven hits, four strikeouts, 93 pitches). Dillon Tate, Tanner Scott, Shawn Armstrong and Valdez combined for six strikeouts and only one earned run (somehow, Mountcastle’s escapade wasn’t ruled an error) in 5.1 innings, and the total ran to 6.1 innings once Fry completed his scoreless 11th to get the save.
Scott was particularly impressive, fanning three and allowing one hit in his 1.1 innings. Valdez also came up big, as manager Brandon Hyde asked him to pitch in three different innings and he fanned three against two hits in 2.1 innings of work. He was in line for a much-deserved win until Higashioka’s base hit found the grass in right field, and Santander’s throw home was just a tad late.
Given another chance, however, he was right on time.
Who was the most Birdland player for Wednesday, April 7?
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Anthony Santander (HR, game-winning assist)
Cedric Mullins (HR)
Cesar Valdez (2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 Ks)
Tanner Scott (1.1 IP, 1 H, 3 Ks)