NEW YORK - Starter Mike Wright Jr. didn’t make it out of the first inning today, Anthony Santander hit his first major league home run, left-hander Tanner Scott was in position to earn his first major league win before the Yankees tied the score in the seventh, Adam Jones lost a ball in the sun in the 10th that could have eventually lost the game, Craig Gentry prevented a walk-off in the 10th and provided a lead in the 12th, Brad Brach coaxed a 1-2-5 double play and the Orioles have exceeded last year’s win total in the Bronx.
A lot to digest again this afternoon, which makes it a typical game between these clubs.
Gentry singled to left field with two outs in the 12th inning on the 11th pitch from reliever Adam Warren to score Pedro Álvarez and break a 7-7 tie. Brach walked the first two batters he faced while trying for the save, committed an error to load the bases with no outs, fielded Aaron Judge’s comebacker to start the unusual double play - with Caleb Joseph firing to third base to get Didi Gregorius - and struck out Giancarlo Stanton to secure an 8-7 win.
Brach couldn’t make the barehanded pickup of Brett Gardner’s bunt, but everything else went smoothly. Never in doubt.
Álvarez, pinch-hitting for Danny Valencia, walked with one out in the top of the 12th, Santander singled with two down and Gentry won his battle with Warren for his third hit of the day. Brach survived all the turmoil and the Orioles won three of four in the house of horrors.
The Yankees nearly won it in the 10th after Jones couldn’t find Didi Gregorius’ fly ball with one out. Gentry raced back and made a lunging catch in left to rob Gardner, Richard Bleier issued an intentional walk to Judge and Stanton swung at the next pitch and shattered his bat on a ground ball.
Bleier escaped a jam in the 11th and turned in three scoreless innings while pitching for the third day in a row. He didn’t allow a run in 5 1/3 innings in the series and most definitely will not be available Monday night against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.
It may take the entire month for the Orioles to get their bullpen in order unless they can put a ban on extra innings.
Santander got the green light on a 3-0 count in the seventh inning against reliever Domingo Germán and delivered a two-run shot to right field that gave the Orioles their first lead. Players in the dugout raised their arms as Santander circled the bases in his 20th major league game.
Scott, the third reliever used after Wright’s early departure, put runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom half and Austin Romine singled to right field off Darren O’Day to tie the score 7-7. O’Day showed his frustration by pounded his fist in his glove.
Scott had worked a scoreless sixth inning, striking out Judge and getting a double play on Stanton’s liner to third. Stanton struck out five times to a chorus of boos.
Santander made a diving catch earlier in the day and had an RBI single in the second after Tim Beckham led off with a double. He was 3-for-23 entering the game.
Wright’s exit offered Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo the chance to show off his multi-inning skills. He shut out the Yankees over 2 1/3 innings and struck out five batters to restore order and allow the Orioles to chip away at the lead.
Araujo struck out Gardner, Judge, Stanton, Tyler Austin and Romine. Jace Peterson singled for the only baserunner against Araujo, who’s struck out 11 batters in 7 2/3 innings.
Miguel Castro allowed one run in two innings on Romine’s RBI single with two outs in the fifth, but it came after Peterson was awarded an infield hit upon review. Manny Machado was late getting rid of the ball after fielding the bouncer and Trey Mancini, starting at first base, didn’t stretch for it.
Romine followed by poking a single past Mancini and up the line to give New York a 6-4 lead. But Machado atoned with a two-out run-scoring single in the sixth after Gentry singled and stole second base, and Santander deposited a 94 mph fastball into the right field seats.
Wright faced nine batters and retired only two of them. He allowed five runs, two of them earned based on his throwing error on an attempted double play. He threw 39 pitches before Araujo replaced him.
The Orioles had lots of chances against left-hander Jordan Montgomery.
They stranded two in the first, but got Santander’s RBI single in the second and Beckham’s run-scoring single in the third after Valencia grounded into a double play. Mancini grounded into a double play in the fourth after Gentry’s leadoff single and Joseph’s walk, but Valencia destroyed a Montgomery curveball on an 0-2 count in the fifth, his two-run shot traveling 443 feet over the visiting bullpen and reducing the Yankees lead to 5-4.
We weren’t close to done.
A typical day in the Bronx.
Manager Buck Showalter on Gentry and more: “It’s one of those things that when you’re trying to add guys in the offseason, you’re looking for baseball players. It’s like the play that Caleb made. You can’t analyze that. How do you analytically equate that? When players are proactive instead of reactive? Caleb told us he was thinking about that before the play happened. And it took the wild pitch out of play, which allowed Brad to really attack down in the zone if he wanted to. He made a tough call with the elevated fastball for strike three, but if you don’t like your chances there ...
“These guys just don’t give in. It goes back to Araujo and the outing he had. I think he kind of made everybody think, ‘OK, we might just have a chance to hold them there.’ But two short outings and the extra-inning games really challenged, and guys responded.”
Showalter on Bleier: “Richard, because of his pitch count and the way he pitches, it’s not high-effort. And I told you, one of the reasons we claimed him is because our players kept telling us they hated hitting off this guy more than anything else. Richard got a little, actually, better as it went on. I was telling Roger (McDowell), ‘You know, he kind of looks like a starter out there.’ It was fun. He had a lot of fun with it.”
Showalter on winning series despite using so many relievers: “You can only do it if everybody does their job and you spread the load around and keep up with it. We knew we had everybody today except Mychal Givens. I was not going to use him today. That was a guy we felt like we didn’t want to use if we had to. I was going to try to stay away from him, and Darren was a guy who could give us multiple innings. He made a great pitch, they just fisted a ball into right field. The Yankees came back and went back ahead in that game.”
Showalter on Wright: “Just command in the strike zone. Mike, like a lot of starting pitchers, you’re hoping he can get in that inning and give us some length. He’s a pitch away from getting out of that inning. He just couldn’t make the pitch, but he’s going to have to be better than that. He knows that.”
Gentry on 12th-inning at-bat: “Just battling, to be honest with you. The guy has got a good cutter, a good slider. I don’t get to face a whole lot of right-handers, but I just went up there and tried to put the ball in play and just kept fighting. I probably fouled off some pitches that were balls, but luckily I was able to get one out over the plate and put it in play.”
Gentry on his catch: “I played in because I was protecting against their speed at second base just in case we had to throw him out. But he hit it over my head and it started slicing and to be honest with you, there was a little bit of panic there, but I was able to get back on it and get my head turned around quickly enough to make the play.”
Gentry on the series: “It was huge for us. We were a little down after the Houston series, but I thought we definitely battled the last two days there and just couldn’t come out with anything. But we showed what type of team we are in this series. We played two long ones and just fought the whole time. We were in a big hole today and just kept fighting and it just shows a lot of character on the team.”
Bleier on the series: “It’s been extremely eventful, that’s definitely for sure, but really a great series for us. Things weren’t looking that great against Houston, we got swept, and then to come in here, a place where we historically don’t play well, to take three of four is really impressive. I think it’s a good turnaround.”
Bleier on bullpen mentality in first inning: “In the first inning, then you just start piecing together innings like, ‘Ok, how are we going to get through this game?’ But then it was only 5-0 and it was 5-2, 5-4 and it was like, ‘All right, we’re back in this game.’ Then it was just situational-type baseball like any other normal game that was a one-run game. You’ve got to be ready, obviously.”
Bleier on working three straight days: “I told Buck I had nine years in the minor leagues, so I had nine years off. I’ll pitch every day the rest of the year. I really don’t care. As long as I’m in the big leagues, I’m available.”
Joseph on throwing to third base on double play: “It goes back to my college coach, Jeff Forehand at Lipscomb. He really instilled trying to play the next play, play the play before it happens. It’s happening quick out there. You’re trying to slow the game down as best you can and thinking of scenarios. I just told Brach if he gets a comebacker to come to me. That’s obviously the play we’re going to. Was thinking if there was a chance, let’s try for third here.
“As soon as I received the ball, Beckham was right at third base. I didn’t hesitate, didn’t think twice about it, threw the ball to third. It’s a play I’ve thought about plenty of times before because most catchers will throw the ball to first base. You have two outs, that sounds great, but you also have the winning run at second base, so a flare not only ties the game, but it beats you, and I’ve always wondered why guys didn’t try to go to third base there to try and keep the winning run at first base so that it takes an extra-base hit to beat you, so it worked out.
“We’re really excited about it. We’re really proud of Brach for really grinding that one out, getting the big ‘W’ for us.”
Wright on outing: “I felt like I was throwing some pretty good pitches. They’re a good-hitting team. They made some quality contact. I think the one pitch I really, really wish I had back was the last one to Torreyes. But other than that, I feel like I battled and threw some pretty good pitches.”
Wright on level of frustration: “It was pretty awful, but the good news is we won. Honestly, that shows a lot about our team, how we came back. I never felt like we were out of it, from the time I came back into the dugout until the end of it. I think that’s awesome, the way the team battled, and Craig right there with that clutch at-bat. That was huge. Everybody was into it and it’s just good that we won.”
Wright on where Alex Cobb’s pending arrival leaves him: “I don’t know. I’m not sure about where that leaves me, but I’m going to keep working hard. That’s what I’ve been doing since this offseason, and I feel good about where I’m at.”
Wright on decision to throw to second base: “I thought it was hit hard enough that we could turn it. Obviously, with Manny’s arm, if I get it there and we turn that we’re out of the inning. We’ve got one of the best turning middle infields in the league. I was trying to utilize them.”
Santander, via translator Ramón Alarcón, on first homer and win: “I’m very thankful. Thanks to God, I was able to hit my first home run, but the most important thing, we were able to win the game.”