Just like we all expected, tonight’s game was a pitchers’ duel between...Kyle Gibson and Clarke Schmidt? That can’t be right. Let me just double-check the box score and...yup. Those were the pitchers! Weird. A 1-0 Orioles’ lead after seven turned into a 3-1 victory and another series win for the Birds.
Now, with Schmidt, it seemed to be more of an issue with the Orioles letting him off the hook. He threw a ton of pitches and the Orioles weren’t able to take advantage of their baserunners. They loaded the bases with two outs in the first and wasted two on with two out in the third.
The umpire’s strike zone was inconsistent throughout the game and Yankees manager Aaron Boone took it very personally. After the top of the third came to a close, he was out of the dugout to yell at the umpire. He got himself tossed out of the game and then decided to really put on a show. Eventually, he piped down and left the field so the game could continue.
Finally, in the fifth inning, the Orioles broke through against the mighty Clarke Schmidt. With Adam Frazier on base with a double, Anthony Santander snuck a ground ball single to the right side of the infield. Frazier raced home to make the game 1-0.
But would one run be enough? If Kyle Gibson had anything do with it, yes it would. Gibson was simply incredible tonight. Unlike Schmidt, he didn’t allow many baserunners and he was relatively pitch efficient. After his great game in Toronto it was exciting to see him excel in back-to-back starts.
The very first batter that Gibson faced, Gleyber Torres, singled on the first pitch that Gibson threw. The next hit he allowed was in the seventh inning. That’s a whole lot of outs between hits! Gibson faced just three batters in each of the first, second, sixth, and seventh innings. He benefited from two double plays. But in such a low-scoring game, any baserunners mean drama.
He worked pretty easily around a one-out walk in the third inning but things got dicey in the fourth. With two outs he issued back-to-back walks to Harrison Bader and Willie Calhoun. This was partially due to Gibson losing the strike zone a bit and partially due to the previously mentioned bad strike zone. But he retired Anthony Volpe to get out of the jam.
In the fifth inning, Gibson walked Ben Rortvedt for the second time in the game. Is Ben Rortvedt really that scary? Apparently so.
Things were pretty easy from there on out for Gibson. He did allow a leadoff single in the seventh inning but finished his night with an inning-ending double play. It was challenged by the Yankees but confirmed by replay. That double play ball marked the end of a fantastic start by Gibson, everything the Orioles needed and the best they could have hoped for, even with more walks than you’d like. His final pitching line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K. That’ll play.
When both starters exit a game with a 1-0 score, the pressure is on for the bullpens. The Yankee bullpen had to cover more ground and they were the ones that blinked. Nick Ramirez got into some trouble when gave up a hit and stolen base to Gunnar Henderson, and allowed Ryan O’Hearn to reach on his own catching error. But Ryan McKenna, who had a very tough night at the plate, grounded into a double play to end the threat.
McKenna was playing tonight because Cedric Mullins is away from the team for a personal issue. Whatever it is, we wish the best for Ced and hope to see him back in the lineup tomorrow in Baltimore.
Finally, in the eighth inning, the Orioles got a little insurance. Yankees pitcher Wandy Peralta, who had come into the game in the seventh and got Adley Rutschman to GIDP to end the inning, wasn’t as good in the eighth. He sandwiched walks to Santander and Henderson around a Ryan Mountcastle strikeout and his day was over.
Clay Holmes replaced Peralta and Austin Hays jumped on a sinker and sent a line drive out to right field. It looked at first glance like a Yankee Stadium home run, but it bounced off the very top part of the fence and back into play. Both runners scored and Hays ended up with a double. Two out of the three Ryans, O’Hearn and McKenna, followed Hays. They couldn’t bring him in.
As for the Orioles’ bullpen, they needed just two innings covered. Mike Baumann came out for the eighth, and I admit I was nervous. But Big Mike dominated, pumping 99 mph fastballs as he struck out two and got a ground out as part of an easy inning.
Things weren’t as easy for Yennier Cano, in for the save in the ninth. He had a tough at-bat against Aaron Judge that ended in a walk and then, with two outs Willie Calhoun launched a ball to deep center field. Would Cedric Mullins have caught it? It doesn’t really matter, because he wasn’t there. It got just beyond McKenna’s reach and Judge scored to make the score 3-1.
Before anyone could get too panicky, though, Anthony Volpe hit the first pitch he saw for an easy fly out to center to end the game.
O’s win! Their six-game road trip against two division rivals ended with a 5-1 record. It turns out that the Orioles are pretty darn good. They now head home for a three-game weekend series against the first-place Texas Rangers. Let’s keep the good times rolling!
Who is the Most Birdland Player for Thursday, May 25th?
Anthony Santander (3-for-3, BB, first RBI of the game)
Austin Hays (laser double for 2 RBI)
Kyle Gibson (7 shutout innings)