The Orioles and Yankees faced off with the Orioles looking to avoid their fifth loss in a row. They did not. Unlike the other games in their losing streak, they did at least make a game of it. They kept it close, they rallied in the ninth, but in the end that didn’t really matter. Another loss is another loss.
Spenser Watkins faced a formidable foe tonight. He battled through four innings and other than one guy, he was mostly ok through. After hitting DJ LeMahieu to kick things off, Aaron Judge smoked a slider to left field. In the old Camden Yards, that ball would have been at least 10 row deep into the stands. But here at new Camden Yards, it hit off the wall for a double.
LeMahieu scored on the double but Judge tried to stretch his hit to a triple and was unable to do so. Austin Hays threw him out at third for the first out of the inning.
Watkins lost control after that, walking two batters, but got out of the inning without further damage.
After a 1-2-3 second inning, Judge stepped to the plate again in the third and this time the wall couldn’t hold him. He went to straight away center field for the solo homer. Yeah, Aaron Judge doesn’t have trouble with Spenser Watkins.
Again Watkins followed Judge’s at-bat by allowing two more base runners but no more runs. In the fourth inning, he faced LeMahieu with a runner on and Judge on deck. Everyone in the ballpark knew that Watkins wasn’t going to face Judge again. Happily he got LeMahieu to ground out and complete four innings with just the two runs allowed.
After Watkins finished the top of the fourth inning, the Orioles actually took the lead! They are already on the board thanks to a Ramón Urías home run hit in the second inning. In the fourth they got some timely hits and some good luck to score two more.
First, Trey Mancini continued his hot hitting with a line drive single. Rougned Odor then hit a high shallow fly ball that just fell inside the foul line for a double. Mancini ended up on third on the bloop, then came in to score when Urías hit a ball back up the middle that Gleyber Torres couldn’t handle. A Tyler Nevin sac fly put the Orioles on top 3-2, but the lead wouldn’t last long.
Joey Krehbiel came on in relief to face Aaron Judge, and Judge treated him just as he had Watkins: with a monster home run. Come on, man! Judge is simply a machine. A big, annoying machine. Krehbiel somewhat redeemed himself later in the inning by making a very nice play to start an inning-ending double play, but the game was still tied.
It became untied the next inning with Dillon Tate on the mound. Tate was shaky, to say the least. He gave up a single to Gleyber Torres and with one out hit Isaiah Kiner-Falefa. He then did the unthinkable and walked Kyle Higashioka. Higashioka is not only the worst hitter on the Yankees, he would be the worst hitter on most teams in the majors. His OPS+ coming into this game was 28. You just don’t walk that guy.
So, with the bases loaded and one out, LeMahieu hit a soft ground ball to shortstop. The only play was to first base, which allowed the go-ahead run to score.
That brought Judge to the plate. He already had two home runs plus a double that would have been a home run in every other ballpark. First base was open and everywhere you could hear people calling for the intentional walk. It was in the game thread comments, it was on Twitter, it was in the Orioles’ broadcast booth. But it wasn’t in Brandon Hyde’s mind, because he didn’t call for it.
Instead of his third home run of the year, Judge grounded out to third the end the inning. I guess he’s not perfect.
The Yankees added an insurance run in the seventh inning with a little help from the Orioles’ defense. With two outs, Josh Donaldson hit a double that Ryan McKenna came THIS close to making a great play on. The next batter should have made the third out, but Urías let the ground ball get right by him and Donaldson scored.
The big excitement of the day came in the eighth inning when Logan Gillaspie made his major league debut. He’s not a big prospect, but he’s a good story. Any time an undrafted player who spent time in the independent league makes it to the majors, it’s fun. And Gillaspie had a pretty good debut! He gave up three hits over two innings but no runs. His family cheered from the sidelines, it was fun.
After relief pitcher Michael King shut down the Orioles for three innings, the Yankees turned to closer Aroldis Chapman to get the last three outs. Chapman has had trouble with the Orioles already this year, and they gave him a run for his money again tonight. It was almost as exciting Logan Gillaspie’s debut! (ok maybe even a little more)
Chapman quickly got the first two outs, but then a trio of unlikely hitters kept things alive. Tyler Nevin and pinch hitter Robinson Chirinos singled, then up stepped Ryan McKenna. McKenna hit a fly ball to left field that fell in front of Joey Gallo. Gallo booted it around for a moment, Neven scored, and McKenna ended up on second base with a double.
Unfortunately the next batter was Cedric Mullins. Mullins is good, but has never had a hit against Chapman. That continued tonight, as he popped out to end the game.
So that’s it. Five-game losing streak in the books. Tomorrow the same two teams are at it again, and if I were a betting person, I’d bet on the same result as the last two nights.