In racing to a 12-5 record through their first 17 July games, the Orioles had four one-run losses and one more that they only lost by two. Even when losing, they’ve kept it close. This impressive streak finally came to an end on Sunday afternoon as the O’s got dunked on in their series finale against the Yankees, losing a 6-0 game played in some blistering Baltimore heat.
The loss feels extra disappointing because the Orioles had a chance to both go above .500 and, combined with a Boston loss to Toronto, move out of last place in the AL East. That would have been pretty good! Alas, the Yankees have won 66 games up to this point, the most in MLB, for plenty of reasons, among them that they have more good players than the Orioles. The O’s used up their magic on Saturday night. Perhaps some will come back by the time the next series against the Rays starts up tomorrow.
Along with testing the Orioles as a whole, the game was also something of a test for O’s starting pitcher Dean Kremer, who’s been good so far in 2022 after two years of not being good, but who had yet to face the Yankees. Kremer had some moments of promise. On the whole though, we must say he failed the test. When all was said and done for Kremer’s afternoon, he had allowed four runs in 5.1 innings, with five hits, a walk, and a hit batter allowed.
Squaring off against former Orioles Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes, the O’s offense had the first good scoring chance in the game; Kremer retired the first six Yankees in order. The bottom of the second inning saw the O’s trying to light a one-out rally. They were gifted this thanks to the Yankees engaging in some over-thinking, deploying a four-man outfield with Adley Rutschman at the plate that included second baseman Gleyber Torres in left field.
As the saying goes: The ball will find you. Rutschman lofted a fly ball that, in any other stadium in MLB and in any Camden Yards season prior to 2022, would have been a home run. This year, with Rutschman’s Regret constructed out there, the ball came down just in front of the fence in left field.
Torres, who had a long way to run to get to it, went back in confusion and was never entirely confident. Though he ultimately had the ball drop into his glove, Torres flinched when he thought he was about to run into the fence and the ball fell to the ground. Rutschman was on second base. This was scored an error on Torres initially, though that was overruled later and called a double for Rutschman.
Recaps of better games for the Orioles tend not to spend three paragraphs talking about a sequence of events that didn’t even result in a run scoring. Rutschman even got to third base with one out on a hard-hit Ramón Urías single. Even for the flight of foot (for a catcher) Rutschman, it wasn’t a play that could score a run. Two on, one out for Tyler Nevin and Robinson Chirinos. These two poor-hitting, seldom-playing backups struck out. The scoring chance was blown. The Orioles did not get multiple runners on base again until the seventh inning.
The Yankees made the Orioles pay for not scoring any runs almost immediately. Their catcher and #8 hitter, Jose Trevino, singled and was still on base when the lineup turned over with two outs. DJ LeMahieu rocketed a ball that also would have been a home run any year before this. Instead, it landed all the way in the corner of LeMahieu’s Lament for a double.
Hays hit the cutoff man and it seemed like Jorge Mateo had a chance to make a play at the plate with his relay throw, except he made a poor throw. The O’s trailed, 1-0, and the inning was not over. Aaron Judge stepped to the plate.
In the loser mindset that has understandably sunk in around Birdland as the Orioles lost 100+ games each of the last three seasons, the only choice in this situation would be to assume failure and intentionally walk Judge. After all, Judge is the MLB home run leader by a wide margin and had already homered twice in the series.
Manager Brandon Hyde did not succumb to that loser mindset and instead challenged his so-far successful pitcher Kremer to make some good pitches. Judge does something other than homer 91% of the time and makes an out 63% of the time in 2022.
Friends, the unfortunate thing is that on this occasion, the loser mindset received support from the actual outcome. Kremer left a belt-high, inner-third hanger and Judge did not miss, walloping 111.1 miles per hour off of his bat that landed 456 feet from home plate, well over Aaron’s Aggravation that he’d whined about previously this season. Some fan seated underneath the overhang in left field had an opportunity to get a fair ball souvenir on the fly. The Yankees led, 3-0.
Even after this, Kremer pitched into the sixth inning and had a chance to get through the game with it counting as a quality start, six innings pitched, three earned runs or fewer. However, he started off the inning by bouncing a pitch into Anthony Rizzo, Kremer got one out and then was pulled in favor of Keegan Akin, in part because he’s been a good reliever and it was a key situation and probably in part to make sure he gets some post-All-Star break work.
Akin, simply put, ain’t had it on this Sunday afternoon. This could have been related to whatever led to his repeatedly wiping blood onto his uniform, or not. In any case, Akin had one of his standard multi-inning relief stints, except that he stunk. He allowed five hits while getting five outs, letting the inherited runner scored plus one of his own. Kremer’s ERA after today’s stumble sits at 3.06; Akin’s, 2.45.
These runs were not ultimately relevant to the game’s outcome on account of the Orioles offense mustering zero runs. Neither was the run allowed by Rico Garcia thanks to a bad luck deflection in the ninth. Cortes scattered six hits over six shutout innings. Clarke Schmidt put up three zeroes after that for an uncommon six-run save due to his pitching the final three innings.
Trey Mancini took an 0-4 in the game and is now hitless in his last five games. Rutschman and Nevin had two hits apiece for the Orioles.
Many more games like this before the August 2 trade deadline and it will not be hard for Mike Elias to trade people, except that his most obvious trade candidate Mancini is in a huge slump and next-most-obvious Anthony Santander has hit just two home runs in July. We’ll see how that goes over the next four days with a series against the Rays. The Monday night 7:05 opener has Austin Voth and Corey Kluber as the scheduled starting pitchers.