Big crowd at Yard Friday, but O's comeback in series opener falls short

It was set up for the Orioles' ninth walk-off win of the year. They trailed by one run and had come from four runs back to get that close on Anthony Santander’s stirring three-run shot off Aroldis Chapman in the seventh. A 7-3 deficit was now 7-6 and the top of the order was coming up for Baltimore.

But it didn’t happen this time.

Adley Rutschman’s infield single put the winning run in the box but right-hander Clay Holmes got Trey Mancini and Santander to hold on for a Yankees win and push the O’s back a game under the .500 mark at 46-47.

So the Orioles are now 1-3 at the start of a 10-game stretch against Tampa Bay and New York. But the three losses have come by one, two and one run. They are right there against two AL East powers and yet being close is not good enough. It shows the guts and character the Orioles have but won’t help keep them in the American League playoff race. Maybe the Orioles are just not ready to stay in the race and that wouldn’t be a shocker. The shocker will be if they can hang around deep into this season.

But it was a down-to-the-last pitch game against the team with the best record in the majors. And the Orioles' ability to hang with the best teams can’t be questioned at this point.

"I feel like the majority of our losses are like this," O’s manager Brandon Hyde said after his team came back yet again. "I'm just proud of our guys. We continue to fight and scrap and claw our way back into games that sometimes would get away from us in the past. Our dugout stays into it and we're right there. Holmes is really good, and came in and shut the door."

The crowd of 28,468 was energized and into it and O’s fans certainly didn’t let Yankees fans take over their Yard on this night.

"I loved it," Hyde said of the atmosphere. "I thought our fans were absolutely outstanding. There's so much energy in the ballpark and we did feel that in the dugout. The atmosphere was phenomenal."

The O’s showed off some of their young guns late in the game when Félix Bautista and Dillon Tate, a one-time Yankees minor leaguer, fanned the last six batters over the eighth and ninth innings.

Bautista touched 101 mph and needed just 12 pitches in the eighth. Tate touched 97 on his two-seam sinker in the ninth. In the seventh, right-hander Bryan Baker threw a 100 mph fastball. That pitch came against Aaron Judge, who he eventually fanned on a cutter. It was the first time he has reached 100+ mph on a pitch in his career. Baker has recorded a strikeout in each of his eight July appearances, good for an 18.0 K/9 (16 strikeouts in eight innings) for the month.

Judge though hit two homers driving in four runs in the win and has 36 homers for the year. It was his MLB-leading eighth two-homer game this year and that ties a Yankees team record. Judge has hit eight homers in 13 games versus the Orioles this year and has hit 34 in 82 career games against Baltimore pitchers.

The last big leaguer with 36 homers in his team’s first 95 games was Chris Davis with 36 in 2013 for the O's.

O’s pitching has allowed 23 runs and eight homers in this stretch going 1-3 against the Yankees and Rays. The Birds allowed just 30 total runs during their 10-game win streak.

The Orioles are now 16-22 in AL East games and 4-10 against New York. But, even with Friday’s loss and the series loss against Tampa Bay before the break, the O’s are 5-5 their past 10 division games and 12-11 the last 23.

Meanwhile, fans on Twitter were buzzing big time early last night when Triple-A Norfolk lefty DL Hall came out after just one inning and 17 pitches at Durham. Was he going to get called up? Or maybe was involved in a trade? Well we later found out he was not hurt, so that was a plus. And he was not traded. The Orioles just planned to limit some of their length pitchers coming out of the break and Mike Baumann followed Hall to the mound and pitched just two innings.

On Friday night at each affiliate starting pitchers and even some in relief threw limited innings as it seemed to be a system-wide plan for last night on the Baltimore farm. 

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