NEW YORK – The forearm smash delivered by Aaron Hicks in front of the visiting dugout today sounded like a clap of thunder. A home run against his former team deserving of an aggressive celebration.
Adam Frazier’s two-run shot later in the inning didn’t carry the same revenge vibes, but it reset a game that was getting away from the Orioles.
They couldn’t pull it back again.
Giancarlo Stanton broke the tie with a ground ball single into shallow center field in the bottom of the fifth, a strange play that saw Gleyber Torres score from first base, and the Orioles stayed behind in an 8-4 loss to the Yankees before an announced crowd of 43,876.
Six defeats in the last seven games have lowered the Orioles’ record to 49-35 and allowed the Yankees to creep within two of second place in the division.
"You play six months, you're going to have periods of not playing your best baseball," said manager Brandon Hyde. "We're in that period right now."
The Orioles turned a double play after Jose Trevino’s leadoff walk in the fifth. Torres also walked, and Stanton followed with a grounder into center field.
Cedric Mullins charged the ball and tossed it back to second, where it arrived on a bounce as Torres stayed in full stride with head lowered, rounded third base and dived across the plate with the go-ahead run.
"I thought we got to the ball quickly," Hyde said. "I thought Torres, who's running unbelievably aggressively everywhere right now, we've got to keep our head up a little bit and get the ball in a little quicker. And Torres made us pay for it."
Jake Bauers struck out on Kyle Gibson’s 89th pitch. Gibson returned for the sixth and retired the side in order.
Gibson threw a season-high 104 pitches and allowed four runs and three hits with four walks and four strikeouts. He’s surrendered 15 runs in his last three starts over 13 2/3 innings, and his ERA inched today from 4.66 to 4.73.
"Besides the four-pitch walk and the homer to Torres to start the game off, I thought he did a great job," Hyde said. "Unfortunate run late that shouldn't have happened. Besides that, pitched really well."
"I created my own issues, really," Gibson said. "I missed with a couple pitches when I was in leverage counts that led to at least two of the walks. If I don't walk guys right there, it's probably a 3-1 game after six innings and I'm feeling pretty good about it. Created my own issues, and most of the time when you do that, they're going to come back to bite you."
Harrison Bader stroked an opposite-field, two-run double in the seventh inning after Bryan Baker inherited two from Nick Vespi and walked pinch-hitter DJ LeMahieu to load the bases. LeMahieu is batting .164 since the beginning of June.
Baltimore native Bruce Zimmermann, recalled this morning, allowed an unearned run in the eighth after his fielding error. Catcher James McCann, reinstated from the injured list, had an RBI groundout in the ninth.
"They're playing way faster than we are," Hyde said. "They're playing better and we need to match that."
A late start due to rain made the Orioles feel right at home this afternoon. The familiar wait inside the clubhouse until the tarp was removed from the field.
They’d love to find a way to keep Torres away from it.
Torres hit a 436-foot home run off Gibson in the first inning, the ball landing in the second deck in left field. He jumped on a cutter after Anthony Rizzo’s leadoff walk for his 21st career homer against the Orioles in 77 games, and the Yankees’ fourth in less than 24 hours.
Their fifth arrived in the seventh inning when Trevino found the right field seats against Vespi.
Gibson retired eight in a row after Bauers’ double in the first. Bauers led off the fourth with a walk, Bader was hit on the left elbow, both runners moved up on Anthony Volpe’s grounder and Isiah Kiner-Falefa flied to right field for a 3-0 lead.
Bader appeared to glare at Gibson on his way to first base, though he didn’t make a move toward the mound. The pitch obviously was unintentional. Gibson spoke to him after the inning, a friendly pat included in the brief exchange, and Bader nodded his head.
The Orioles had one hit off Clarke Schmidt, on Ryan O’Hearn’s leadoff double in the second. He retired 13 of the first 14 batters before Hicks drove a knuckle curve over the right-center field fence in the fifth.
"To be able to put a run on the board right there was big," Hicks said. "It ended up starting a three-run inning. That was huge."
Hicks knew the reception would be harsh.
"Just kind of the way this year was going," he said. "Kind of things that I've been hearing while I was out there when I was here. I assumed that was going to happen. Just try to go out there and continue to battle and try to win games.
"I definitely enjoyed my time here. I enjoyed being a Yankee and I enjoyed the team. It's kind of one of those things where it's disappointing, but at the same time, they're going to do what they're going to do, and I can't control that."
A fan heaved the ball past Bader in center, turning the boos into cheers. But Jordan Westburg doubled to left, with Oswaldo Cabrera taking a poor route, and Frazier hit his 10th homer for a 3-3 tie.
Frazier had a combined eight home runs in 311 games over the past two seasons before signing with the Orioles as a free agent.
Ron Marinaccio loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, walking Hicks to bring Westburg to the plate. The rookie fell behind 1-2 and popped up.
Trevino and Bader stretched the lead, and the Orioles continued to go in the wrong direction.
The best they can do is split the four-game series.
"We've had a tough time the last couple weeks putting the game on the mound and the game at the plate together," Hyde said. "We're having a tough time scoring runs. I thought we got a couple good starts the last couple games, but haven't executed out of the bullpen. You're going to go through periods of this during the season. Hopefully we can bounce back and get out of this quickly."
"You've got to control your mistakes," Hicks said. "You can't give a team extra outs and you've got to play clean baseball. And you've got to be able to drive runs in whenever you can. And just keep grinding. Don't stop fighting. That's pretty much what will get you out of it."
Said Gibson: "It's surprising, obviously, because when you play so well for so long, consistently for 70 of these 84 games, we've played really, really good, you don't expect to have stretches like this. But nobody is immune to it, every team goes through it. ... There's just things that aren't going our way and you try to just keep pushing forward and understand that, you've got five games left before the All-Star break and you can make yourself feel a whole lot better by these five games going our way.
"When you start off well, like we did, I think you give yourself a little bit of wiggle room to have stretches like this. ... We understand that we put ourselves in a really good spot, that we can weather storms like this."