NEW YORK - Catcher Austin Wynns didn’t intend to serve as a team spokesman this afternoon as he stepped outside of the visiting clubhouse and met the media. But he was asked about the 88 home runs surrendered by Orioles pitching in 41 games, putting them on pace to shatter the major league record. A question placed on a tee.
Wynns expressed feelings that no doubt are shared in every corner.
“We lead the league in home runs,” he said following a 5-3 loss to the Yankees in the first game of the doubleheader. “You know what? We’re going to try to make an adjustment. We’ve got to bounce back and we have to come up with something. You know what I mean? We’ve got to come up with something.”
David Hess served up four home runs over the first four innings, including a pair to Gleyber Torres, and he leads the majors with 14.
“They were just pitches that just didn’t have no bite,” Wynns said. “Obviously, clearly went over the fence. We just need to not do that, period. There’s too many home runs. It’s embarrassing and we have to put an end to that.”
The Mariners began the day ranked second in the majors with 71 homers allowed in 45 games.
“I don’t think it ever goes over well,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I think it’s always tough. We’ve given up a ton this year and it’s something we’ll really have to improve on to try to stay in games. You just can’t give up four home runs against the New York Yankees and expect to win the game.”
All four were solo shots, but that didn’t bring much comfort to Hyde.
“They’re still homers,” he said. “Disappointing for me a little bit was we come out, we score, you give in to Gary Sánchez middle-middle on a heater that goes out of the ballpark. We score again and they hit another homer. Just being able to, like, have shutdown innings after teams put some runs up for you.
“He’s throwing the ball aggressive. It’s about executing a little bit better in those situations.”
“The shutdown inning is big,” Hess said. “That’s something that I didn’t do well. Talking to Broc (Doug Brocail), just really focusing on trying to nail down the root of what was going on. Some of the balls they hit were good pitches, but that’s a team that’s swinging it well, a team that’s winning a lot of games right now. Sometimes you’ve just got to tip your cap and just attack the next guy.”
Hess was beaten twice on his fastball and twice on the slider, including one to Torres that the shortstop golfed to left field leading off the fourth. It dropped below the strike zone and Torres still made hard contact.
“Yeah, that was one of the frustrating ones,” Hess said. “I went back and watched it and that’s a ball that bounces if he doesn’t hit it. That’s one that kind of leaves you confused to what exactly you’re doing or what’s going on. Again, that’s a guy who’s a good hitter. Obviously, that pitch wasn’t good enough to get him out, so we’ll have to figure out something else.”
Hess is winless in his last seven starts, going 0-5 with a 7.03 ERA since his 6 1/3 hitless innings in Toronto. Seven of his 14 home runs have come against the Yankees.
“He gave us six innings,” Hyde said. “You’re just not going to win games if you give up four homers. Around the four homers I thought he threw the ball really well. It’s just the longball kind of got him again today, and it’s something he’s going to have to work on. But six innings and pitched well around the home runs.”
Hess retired seven of the last eight batters and reached 89 pitches by throwing only 10 in the fifth and five in the sixth.
“Huge, huge for the team,” Wynns said. “Bullpen and just him in the later innings, when you saw him having his velo get up higher. There was more bite to his pitches. We need that. And he understands that.
“We discussed that. He needs to make an adjustment the next outing, for sure.”
“I just think David Hess has got to keep the ball off the barrel,” Hyde said. “When you miss middle-middle to Gary Sánchez, you know? Gleyber Torres, a hanging slider up and away to (Cameron) Maybin. It’s not going to end in a good result, usually. I like the way he threw, besides a few pitches, and he battled and gave us six.”
Said Hess: “I think, really, going in and just trying to keep the team in the game the best that I could. Coming out right off the bat we kind of saw that it was going to be a little bit of a slugfest in this series, so to eat up six innings and keep us in it as best as I could, that was a big goal. And that’s one of the big takeaways, was getting back on track. Even if it’s a little bit of progress, it was a step in the right direction.”
Wynns was 2-for-17 coming into Game 1. He had an RBI double and a single in his first two at-bats.
“I was just trying to barrel balls and get on base for the team, period,” he said. “We’ve got to win a game.”
Renato Núñez was 0-for-15, 1-for-32 and 4-for-53 before his leadoff home run off J.A. Happ in the fourth inning. Hyde batted him in the cleanup spot and it paid off for one at-bat.
“I think he sees the ball pretty good against him,” Hyde said. “Got a changeup and hit it out of the ballpark. I know that felt good for him. I thought he swung the bat better that first game.”
Branden Kline gave the Orioles two scoreless innings with only one hit allowed after replacing Hess. Four of his five appearances have been scoreless.
“Now we’re in great shape for the second game,” Hyde said “Gave us some length.”
New Yankees designated hitter Kendrys Morales is in the lineup for Game 2. He’s 7-for-13 with three home runs against Andrew Cashner.
For the Yankees
DJ LeMahieu 3B
Luke Voit 1B
Aaron Hicks CF
Gleyber Torres SS
Kendrys Morales DH
Clint Frazier RF
Mike Tauchman LF
Austin Romine C
Thairo Estrada 2B
Domingo Germán RHP
Update: Luke Voit’s two-out double in the third inning scored DJ LeMahieu and gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
Update II: Torres homered again leading off the fourth to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Update IV: Voit’s two-out RBI single off Shawn Armstrong in the seventh increased the lead to 3-1.