Sometimes they sneak up on the Orioles rather than bulldoze them.
The Yankees fell behind today after the first batter in the bottom of the first inning. They built a three-run lead and lost it. Their lineup was decimated by injuries and their starting pitcher was far south of elite status.
Maybe this was the day that the Orioles’ losing streak in head-to-head competition would end at 18 games. Maybe they wouldn’t have to go into the nightcap of the doubleheader wondering if they can keep it out of the 20s.
Emergency starter Thomas Eshelman lasted only 2 1/3 innings and punished his body with a belly flop on the first base line while retrieving a ball. Gary Sánchez inflicted his usual damage early. Cedric Mullins, Rio Ruiz and Renato Núñez hit home runs, but the Orioles stranded 11 runners and lost 6-5 in nine innings at Camden Yards.
Miguel Andújar, a late substitution in the game, singled off Travis Lakins Sr. in the ninth to score pitcher Jonathan Holder. Clint Frazier plated Andújar with a single and the Orioles lost to the Yankees for the 19th game in a row. They’ve dropped 18 straight in Baltimore, the last win coming on July 10, 2018.
José Iglesias extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an infield single in the ninth off Chad Green that moved Lakins to third base with no outs. Núñez grounded into a double play adn Bryan Holaday flied out.
Tanner Scott had runners on the corners with one out in the eighth and DJ LeMahieu bounced into a 4-3 double play. The Orioles put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom half against Holder and Anthony Santander lined out.
Santander left the game with an apparent injury, forcing manager Brandon Hyde to lose his designated hitter with Iglesias playing shortstop and Pat Valaika going to right field. The Yankees had already surrendered their DH.
Hyde said Santander felt “something in his oblique” and will undergo tests this evening. He’s out of the lineup for the second game.
The Orioles won’t make a roster move between games.
Ryan Mountcastle pinch-hit for Ruiz in the sixth with Zack Britton pitching and drew his fifth walk in 12 games. Andrew Velazquez reached on an infield hit and Pedro Severino walked to load the bases with one out, but Santander popped up and Iglesias bounced into a force to keep the game tied.
Hunter Harvey allowed back-to-back singles to open the seventh and retired the next three batters, striking out Sánchez on a 98 mph fastball. Aroldis Chapman struck out Valaika to strand Hanser Alberto at second base and carry the game to the eighth.
“We had many opportunities to win the game, didn’t get it done,” said Hyde, whose club was 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and wasted 5 2/3 scoreless innings from the bullpen prior to the ninth.
“We should have won the game multiple times. Just didn’t score the runner from third there a couple times. But it was a nice comeback from our guys, Noonie with the big homers. We had many opportunities and didn’t cash in.”
Ruiz hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Núñez tied the game in the fifth with a solo shot off Ben Heller, but the Orioles fell to 16-21 overall and 7-15 at home.
It just took a while.
Jorge López will start Game 2, which also is set for seven regulation innings, and attempt to stop the madness.
Ben Heller got ahead of Núñez 0-2, but the first baseman proved that a sore hamstring wouldn’t hinder him at the plate by taking a curveball 422 feet to center field per Statcast.
Eshelman lost his command for good in the third after slamming into the ground trying to record an out after Tyler Wade’s ball bounced off Núñez’s mitt for an error. He rose to his feet, walked back to the mound slowly and did some fidgeting to check for injuries. There may have been a grimace.
LeMahieu blooped a single into right field, Luke Voit walked and Brett Gardner - his .175 average slotted third in the order - lined a tie-breaking two-run single into center field.
Frazier walked to load the bases, Mike Ford lined to left field and manager Brandon Hyde wouldn’t let Eshelman pitch to Sánchez, who homered in the second.
“Physically I was fine,” said Eshelman, who was told around 10:30 a.m. that he’d be starting. “I just didn’t execute pitches after that. I wasn’t able to command my fastball like I wanted to.”
Branden Kline made his 2020 debut and struck out Sánchez and Thairo Estrada, his fastball reaching 98 mph, but he sandwiched those at-bats around a nine-pitch walk to Matt Tauchman that gave New York a 4-1 lead.
Eshelman threw only 47 pitches as the replacement for Alex Cobb, who went on the injured list this afternoon for protocol reasons.
Take away Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela, and the Yankees still don’t miss a beating of the Orioles.
Ruiz drove a Michael King sinker into the right field seats in the fourth to reduce the lead to 4-3. His last home run came on Aug. 15.
Mullins hit his third career leadoff home run to give the Orioles an early edge over King. The last came in September 2018.
Mullins won’t always bunt. He chose today to unload on a 95 mph fastball, sending it 427 feet to right field per Statcast.
Sánchez was in a 3-for-27 slump in his last 10 games. He was batting .130 with a .582 OPS. But the Orioles are a temporary cure. He hit a 426 foot home run with two outs in the second inning, his 17th in 42 career games against them, for a 1-1 tie.
Kline is 42nd player to appear for the Orioles this season. He wasn’t charged with a run and struck out three in 1 2/3 innings.
Iglesias was drilled on the left elbow in the third inning, when the Orioles stranded two runners. He’s been hit twice this season and drawn only one walk.
Here’s the lineup for the nightcap:
Cedric Mullins CF, DJ Stewart RF, Renato Núñez DH, Pedro Severino C, Ryan Mountcastle LF, Rio Ruiz 3B, Pat Valaika 2B, Dilson Herrera 1B, Andrew Velazquez SS. Jorge López RHP