The orange carpet wasn’t unrolled tonight at Camden Yards. Players walked out of the dugouts and lined up sans the traditional introductions. The only bunting used was intended to advance a runner.
The Orioles held their home opener in understated fashion, adapting to the new policies implemented because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A video played at 7:12 p.m. celebrating baseball’s return but also calling for an end to racial injustice and reminding everyone of the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Johns Hopkins nurse Mahala Thomas threw out the pre-recorded ceremonial first pitch. Siblings and Baltimore School for the Arts students Ebban and Ephraim Dorsey performed a jazz instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” - a performance taped outside the school.
DJ LeMahieu homered onto the flag court in right field on the second pitch thrown by Asher Wojciechowski, the Yankees loaded the bases on two catcher’s interference calls and a walk and scored again on Mike Ford’s sacrifice fly, and the Orioles were held to one hit through six innings in a 9-3 loss.
Wojciechowski threw 31 pitches in the inning and Pedro Severino had his hand checked by assistant athletic trainer Patrick Wesley after it was struck by Giancarlo Stanton’s bat.
It got weird shortly after it got underway.
The Yankees hit three home runs in the first three innings, again playing the part of unwelcome guests.
Wojciechowski retired the side in order on 11 pitches in the second inning, but Aaron Judge led off the third with a towering fly ball that carried over the left field fence, Stanton walked with one out and Aaron Hicks followed with a two-run shot to right.
Hicks’ home run increased the Yankees total at Camden Yards to 46 since the beginning of last season.
Evan Phillips entered the game in the sixth. Wojciechowski allowed five runs (four earned) and four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in five innings. He threw 92 pitches, 56 for strikes.
The Orioles hadn’t lost since Friday night, but they’re 2-2 heading into the series finale. They’ve lost 17 consecutive games to the Yankees dating back to April 2019.
José Iglesias stayed hot with a run-scoring double off Gerrit Cole in the bottom of the first. Iglesias plated Austin Hays, who walked, and improved to 8-for-14 with four doubles and three RBIs on the season.
Who’s going to be the first person to start printing those “Iggy Pop” T-shirts?
Pat Valaika replaced Iglesias at shortstop after the veteran grounded out to end the sixth.
DJ Stewart’s leadoff walk in the third represented the only baserunner after Iglesias’ double until Cole finally weakened in the seventh. Cole threw 102 pitches.
The emotional tone for the evening was struck as the Orioles ran a scroll of names on the video board belonging to members of their families who have passed away. Superfan Mo Gaba was saved for last and honored as the “10th man.”
The video package also included Trey Mancini welcoming back fans, expressing his gratitude for their support and introducing “The F16HTERS” who are recognized as this week’s Birdland Community Heroes.
The Yankees crossed it again in the sixth.
Phillips walked two batters and they scored on singles by LeMahieu and Judge. He also struck out two.
Shawn Armstrong retired all six batters he faced on 20 pitches, but Cody Carroll loaded the bases with one out in the ninth and Stanton delivered an RBI single. Carroll had command issues again - walking a batter, hitting one and throwing a wild pitch.
Carroll has faced nine batters and retired only one. He’s trying to hold onto his roster spot with John Means coming off the injured list on Thursday.
Paul Fry inherited a bases-loaded, one-out mess, and his wild pitch after a Mike Tauchman strikeout increased the lead to 9-3.
Update: Hyde said Iglesias is battling some quad soreness that surfaced during the series in Boston.
“You probably saw him not get out of the box real good in that first inning on the double,” Hyde said. “So I was monitoring him. He wanted to stay in there, and then when the game was a six-run game, something like that, I just went to him and wanted to get him out of the game at that point.”
Hyde on Severino’s interference calls: “That was a first for me. I’ve been around for a while and I’ve never seen that. I thought Judge and Giancarlo, they kind of get long in the back and they have big guys, and just got to have a little more awareness and give yourself some room. I thought (Severino) was just a little bit anxious early. Made the adjustment, a little too late, but he made the adjustment and got a little deeper. But yeah, that’s one thing that I’ve never seen and (Sevie) hasn’t had that issue. That was very unusual.”
Hyde on what ran through mind after seeing three home runs: “I just thought Asher missed location with the pitches there. All three were fastballs up, just not up enough or located down.”
Wojciechowski on the early home runs: “I just think I didn’t execute pitches well enough. Kind of just too much in the zone, a little too up with the fastballs. Just got to be better there next time. But overall I thought I executed really well tonight. Those three mistakes really hurt tonight.”
Smith said he was supposed to start in the outfield, but moved into the DH role after the news broke on Davis.
Smith on how he’s feeling: “I feel like I’m pretty close to where I should be physically. I’m still working hard every day just to get my body back into baseball shape. But I feel pretty close right now.”