NEW YORK - Orioles manager Buck Showalter always talks about having to prepare for the what-ifs. As in, what if the starting pitcher gets nailed on the shin by a line drive in the first inning? How will the bullpen cover the rest of the game?
Showalter sits down with pitching coach Roger McDowell and bullpen coach Alan Mills to ascertain the availability of their relievers. An expanded roster doesn’t necessarily provide adequate cover.
Alex Cobb’s blister issues had the Orioles on high alert today, and he couldn’t make it through his first batter. Mike Wright Jr. removed his jacket, jogged onto the field and warmed as quickly as his body would allow.
Ideal circumstances were never in play for Wright, who walked his first three batters, including Andrew McCutchen, whom he inherited from Cobb. The Yankees scored three runs and led until Tim Beckham’s second home run of the day, a two-run shot off A.J. Cole in the sixth inning that tied the game.
Renato Núñez followed with a home run, Cole was booed on his way to the dugout and the Orioles executed the reverse lock with a 6-3 victory over the Yankees to avoid the sweep.
The Orioles head to Boston with a 45-110 record, including 18-60 on the road. The 1939 St. Louis Browns lost 111 games and the Orioles are trying to avoid passing them.
Beckham’s other two multi-homer games came last season with the Rays. He really took his designated hitter responsibilities seriously today.
DJ Stewart pinch-hit for John Andreoli in the fifth and lifted a sacrifice fly off Tommy Kahnle to score Joey Rickard, who doubled for the second time today. Stewart doubled in the eighth to score Rickard, who singled, and increase the lead to 6-3.
Mychal Givens retired the side in order in the ninth inning for his ninth save after throwing 24 pitches yesterday.
Second baseman Breyvic Valera came out of the game in the fifth inning with a fractured left index finger after jamming it into catcher Gary Sánchez’s knee while trying to score on Jonathan Villar’s ground ball to first. Valera dived into the plate, was tagged out and rolled over in pain.
Head athletic trainer Brian Ebel held Valera’s arm for support as they headed to the clubhouse. Steve Wilkerson replaced Valera at second base, and an X-ray revealed a fracture of the second metacarpal.
Valera was 10-for-35 (.286) with the Orioles and becoming more of a consideration for next spring as a utility player or possible starter. He’s done in 2018.
Cobb won’t make another start with only seven games left and the cut on his right middle finger unable to heal properly. He lasted only four pitches before Wright was rushed into the game.
Dylan Bundy also couldn’t record an out in his May 8 start against the Royals. According to STATS, the last time that the Orioles had two starters fail to retire a batter in the same season was 1988 with Mike Morgan on April 22 in Kansas City and Jay Tibbs on June 5 versus the Yankees.
The Yankees were the last team before today, with Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner in 2007.
Cobb has to settle for a 5-15 record, 4.90 ERA and 1.411 WHIP over 28 starts in his first season after signing a four-year, $57 million contract, the richest in club history for a pitcher.
The Yankees built a 3-0 lead in the first as all three of Wright’s walks turned into runs, but Beckham homered off J.A. Happ in the top of the second to trim the lead to 3-1. Wright covered four innings and retired 10 of the last 11 batters, and Ryan Meisinger retired all six of his batters.
Rickard doubled in the second and was stranded. Happ walked two batters in the third and stranded them. Núñez doubled and Austin Wynns singled in the fourth, but Andreoli struck out. Valera tripled with one out in the fifth, didn’t score and didn’t protect himself with the dive.
The Orioles waited to get into the Yankees’ bullpen and made their move.
Their own bullpen was responsible for covering nine innings and securing the win.