Today’s matchup looked lopsided on paper, and it certainly felt that way at the get-go. You had the Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery and his 3.52 ERA drawing whiffs with a sinking changeup and fastball that look exactly alike. On the other side, you had Chris Ellis, a guy making the third start of his career, looking congenitally unable to find the strike zone and sustaining all sorts of hard contact even when the Yankees made outs.
But baseball is weird sometimes, because after five innings, the Orioles had a 1-0 lead and Chris Ellis had somehow no-hit the Yankees. After six-and-a-half innings, the Orioles were up 3-0 and the Yankees were still hitless. And after nine, the Birds had unthinkably won this one, 4-3.
It wasn’t all good news. For this team, even when things look like they’re going well, they can turn into a pumpkin just as quickly. Jahmai Jones broke through with two hits today, but almost single-handedly gave away a run with two bad plays in the seventh. Hyde brought in Jorge López for the fourth day in a row and that didn’t pay: instead, Joey Gallo tied up the game 3-3 with a two-run blast. But Pedro Severino’s ninth-inning sac fly made the difference, and Cole Sulser hung on for the win.
The Orioles giveth, the Orioles taketh away. Then, on rare occasion, they giveth again.
Speaking of takeaways, none of this should take away from Chris Ellis’ huge performance today: five shutout innings, two walks, nary a hit allowed. Ellis was a little wild all game, with just 53 strikes out of 92 pitches, and he sustained hard contact in the first and fourth innings. But he also showed a lively fastball and a wicked curveball that kept Yankees hitters off-balance all day (the Ellis curveball has a 41.2% whiff rate this year: keep it up). He also fielded his position, making a nifty running scoop-and-toss play on a bunt attempt by the speedy Tyler Wade. It took Ellis 30 pitches to navigate through the second, and he walked two in a shaky fifth—far from ideal, but try and tell me the O’s won’t take these results.
With an effective start from Ellis and more good work from Tanner Scott, Marcos Diplán, and Cole Sulser, the only reason today’s game was close at all was because the team stranded twelve runners in a grand monument to RISP futility. The Birds drove the Yankees’ Montgomery from the game after 4 2/3 innings, but they had precious little to show for it. They led off the second with two hits, but stranded two. Trey Mancini—super locked in these days—hit an oppo-way single and Ramón Urías singled straight up the middle. But three straight pop-ups don’t score runs, and didn’t then.
The Birds broke through with the game’s first run in the fourth inning, but there could have been more. Trey Mancini laid off a bunch of low pitches, then tapped a single the opposite way. Two outs later, Pedro Severino thwacked a double down the line to put runners on second and third. Jorge Mateo came through in a big way, fouling off three 3-0 strikes before Montgomery threw him a curveball that bounced and skidded away from the catcher for a run-scoring wild pitch. But Ryan McKenna snuffed the rally with a strikeout.
The Orioles loaded the bases in the top of the fifth and again walked away with nothing. Jahmai Jones hit a bouncer off Velazquez’s glove that, fortunately for his offensive stats, went as a single. Cedric Mullins, .143 over the last week, followed with another. Jordan Montgomery threw Mancini a 3-2 curveball and missed. Bye-bye, Montgomery. But his replacement, Clay Holmes, struck out Ramón Urías on three pitches. The Orioles had stranded seven through five.
They’d strand three more in their biggest inning, the seventh. Last night, Wandy Peralta allowed a run in extras against Baltimore. A clue, perchance, that the Orioles can hit this guy? Jahmai Jones doubled, his second hit of the game, and Mullins drove in the O’s second run with another double, 107 mph off the bat. Mullins moved over to third on a Ryan Mountcastle groundout that Yankees shortstop Velazquez swallowed up with a diving play, earning a little hat tip from Mountcastle. With anybody but Mullins, Mateo, or McKenna on third base, Austin Hays’ swinging tapper would have been bad news, but Mullins took off on contact, narrowly sliding under the tag to score the O’s third run.
It was huge, because even though Mancini singled and Urías walked to the load the bases with one out, Severino and Mateo whiffed and flew out to end the inning. Three runs is nice, but it’s not a lot against the Yankees, as we’d see in the bottom of the seventh.
The Yankees got their first hit, and their first run (unearned) thanks to a pair of defensive miscues by Jahmai Jones. Anthony Rizzo reached when Jahmai Jones booted a roller in the shift, the O’s second error of the game. Tanner Scott walked a batter, then got yanked, and Marcos Diplán got pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez to fly out. Pinch-hitter Gleyber Torres’ slow roller, booted by Jones, went down as the Yankees’ first hit of the game, and their first RBI. Luke Voit, New York’s third pinch hitter of the inning, then ground into an inning-ending double play. Whew.
But the eighth inning rolled around, and when DJ LeMahieu got aboard with a 57.6-mph tapper, Brandon Hyde brought in Jorge López for the fourth day in a row. You wondered if there was a risk of overuse? Well, it certainly looks that way. The Yankees’ Joey Gallo tied it up with one swing before López whiffed Judge and Stanton back-to-back. Gee, thanks a lot, Jorge. Cole Sulser, also seemingly pitching everyday lately, ended the inning with one pitch.
A tie game headed into the ninth felt a lot like the Orioles’ game to lose, especially when the Yankees brought in their big gun, Aroldis Chapman. But against Chapman, the Orioles loaded the bases again. Ryan Mountcastle reached after whiffing on a wild pitch—any way you can, right? Austin Hays singled, and a wild Chapman walked Trey Mancini—Mancini’s fifth time on base today. (Give this man all of the props, all of them.) With the bases loaded and no outs, Ramón Urías infuriatingly stared at a fastball for strike three. (Afternoon shadows . . . maybe.) That gave Pedro Severino the game’s biggest opportunity. He, too, stared at a bunch of down-the-middle fastballs, but got the contact he needed, punching a sac fly deep to left to drive in the go-ahead run.
A nail-biter of a ninth? Nah, actually. Cole Sulser cruised, picking up the win in the process.
That “big hit” Brandon Hyde keeps talking about, it wasn’t happening today. But the O’s did just enough to win, and for now, their potential milkshake duck looked, instead, like the real deal.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sept. 4, 2021?
This poll is closed
Chris Ellis (5 IP, 3 BB, 0 R, 0 H, 2 K)
Cedric Mullins (2-for-5, heads up run scored)
Trey Mancini (3-for-3, 2 BB, R)
Cole Sulser (1.1 IP, shutdown ninth, W)
Pedro Severino (1-for-4, 2B, go-ahead sac fly)