It was a cold and windy night in the Bronx. Wool caps were prevalent in the stands and in the dugouts. Many players sported face masks in the field. A few even wore hand warmers around their waists, like NFL players in the dead of winter.
After the O’s went down in order to start the game, Tyler Wells got bitten by the long ball in the bottom of the first. Aaron Judge singled with one out before Giancarlo Stanton cracked an opposite field home run to right, giving New York a two-run lead.
After a couple of uneventful innings, the Orioles threatened Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery in the third. But New York escaped without any damage. Jorge Mateo led off with a double, and Ryan McKenna was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. After a Cedric Mullins fly out, Mateo was caught dancing off of second base by Montgomery and was tagged for out no. 2. Then Trey Mancini flied to center and the threat was over.
Wells showed better pitch efficiency in tonight’s start, requiring 45 pitches to get through the first three innings. He had one strikeout up to that point. Then in the fourth, he struck out Stanton and Josh Donaldson en route to a 1-2-3 inning.
Trying to jump start their offense in the fifth, the O’s had a couple of failed bunt attempts. After Robinson Chirinos struck out to start the inning, Chris Owings bunted a ground ball out to Montgomery, and Mateo popped a bunt foul to the catcher for the last out.
The Orioles flashed the leather in the bottom of the fifth on a superb play by Jorge Mateo that recalled memories of Derek Jeter. Mateo ranged deep in the hole at short to backhand a grounder by Jose Trevino. Then, with his momentum carrying him into shallow left field, Mateo did a jump spin and fired the ball to first on one hop to nail the runner.
With that play serving as the punctuation point, Wells’ night was over after five innings. He allowed three hits and two runs, including one home run, and struck out four batters. This was the second consecutive start in which Wells did not allow a walk. He also lowered his ERA from 6.75 to 5.54.
It was a season and career-high in pitches thrown by Wells with 72 (including 44 strikes). In his three previous starts, Wells threw 54 pitches in 2.1 innings, 64 in four innings, and 54 in 1.2 innings.
The Birds finally got to Montgomery and the Yanks in the top of the sixth. With two outs and Mullins on first base via single, Anthony Santander launched a missile into the right field seats, tying the game at two runs apiece. Santander has reached base in every game so far this year; 18 in total.
Montgomery was pulled with two outs in the sixth after hitting Austin Hays with a pitch. The lefty’s final pitching line included four hits, two runs, zero walks, and four strikeouts.
The Yanks took the lead right back in the bottom half of the sixth. Joey Krehbiel entered in relief, putting runners on the corners with one out before O’s manager Brandon Hyde went back to the bullpen. Felix Bautista came on and allowed an RBI sacrifice fly to Stanton and a single to Donaldson before finishing the Yankees on a strikeout. 3-2, Yankees.
New York tacked on another couple runs in the seventh, with the first one courtesy of slugger Joey Gallo. Whenever he came to bat, the Orioles went with four outfielders, moving second baseman Chris Owings into left field. It didn’t matter in Gallo’s first two at-bats because Wells struck him out both times. But in Gallo’s third at-bat, he deposited a solo home run into the right field stands.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled after Gallo’s homer, which led to Bautista’s exit and Dillon Tate’s entrance into the game. Consecutive ground outs moved Kiner-Falefa to second, and then third base. He came around to score on a wild pitch by Tate. Aaron Jude struck out to end the inning.
Aside from a Trey Mancini walk in the eighth, the Orioles didn’t have any baserunners in the final three innings. With Clay Holmes pitching in the ninth, the Orioles went three up and three down to finalize the score. Yankees 5, Orioles 2.
With that, Baltimore has lost the series in New York. They’ll head into the series finale at risk of a sweep. The role of stopper will fall upon the shoulders of tomorrow’s starter, lefty Bruce Zimmermann.