The Orioles won’t get much sympathy from the opposing dugout. No one on that side wants to hear about their injuries and misfortune.
How their best starting pitcher this year unexpectedly was lost today to the injured list, the word “protocol” and their lack of information suggesting it’s related in some fashion to COVID-19.
How their top overall player left the first game of the doubleheader after feeling a twinge in his oblique, an injury that never heals quickly. There are no speedy returns.
How their shortstop, having a career year offensively, must be handled with care due to a nagging quadriceps injury that limits his innings in the field. The designated hitter for most of the opener. On the bench for the nightcap.
How deadline trades thinned the rotation and bullpen. And last year’s ace and All-Star representative is still building back up, regaining a feel for his changeup in his last start while suddenly losing it for his fastball.
The Orioles played the lousy hand they were dealt in the second game tonight. No roster moves and calls for reinforcements. Suck it up and try again to beat a Yankees team that’s become historically dominant against them.
There’s always Ryan Mountcastle, the big-time prospect who’s handling everything thrown at him - literally and figuratively. His two-run homer in the second inning was his first at Camden Yards and shifted the mood. His run-scoring single in the fifth off top Yankees pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt produced his third hit of the night and tied the game.
Rio Ruiz followed with an RBI single, Pat Valaika lined a two-run double into the right field corner and the Orioles did the improbable by holding on for a much-needed 6-3 victory at Camden Yards and a split of the doubleheader.
The losing streak is over, with the Orioles defeating the Yankees for the first time in 20 games. They had lost 18 in a row in Baltimore, the last win coming on July 10, 2018.
Jorge López gave the team exactly what it needed by covering five innings and allowing three unearned runs and three hits. He walked one batter, struck out two and was removed after 88 pitches.
He was hurt by a leadoff walk in the fourth and Ruiz’s throwing error with two outs that was followed by Erik Kratz’s two-run single, giving New York a 3-2 lead. Dilson Herrera, making his initial start for the Orioles at first base, couldn’t play the hop and López was tagged with two more unearned runs.
Mountcastle homered twice in Buffalo in an Aug. 30 game against the Blue Jays and he demolished a Deivi García fastball tonight after Pedro Severino led off the second inning with a single. The reaction from the dugout as Mountcastle made contact was just as loud as bat meeting ball.
Anthony Santander injured his oblique in the eighth inning of the opener. Manager Brandon Hyde lost his designated hitter after maneuvering players to new positions and putting José Iglesias at shortstop. He’s more worried about his right fielder.
Hyde was in a somber mood during his Zoom conference call. He had plenty of reasons.
The Mountcastle home run provided a lift in the nightcap, but the Yankees scored an unearned run in the third on Tyler Wade’s leadoff single, a wild pitch, Severino’s throwing error and Thairo Estrada’s ground ball.
The Orioles (17-21) conceded the run. They weren’t doing the same with the outcome.
DJ Stewart, the replacement in right field after starting in left earlier, drew a 10-pitch walk in the third inning to put two runners on base with one out, but Garcia stranded them.
Mountcastle led off the fourth inning by reaching on an infield hit on what appeared to be a routine ground ball to third. He was erased on a force play, Herrera was hit by a pitch on the right arm and the Orioles couldn’t manufacture the tying run.
Stewart walked again with one out in the fifth to give him nine this season with 10 strikeouts and no hits. Renato Núñez struck out for the third time, Severino singled and Schmidt, making his major league debut, served up the Mountcastle single on a slider.
Ruiz and Valaika followed with their hits and César Valdez entered the game with a three-run lead and needing six outs.
He got them and earned his first major league save.
The Orioles had been a combined 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the doubleheader before the inning.
At least Herrera was able to avoid the trainers’ room tonight after being hit. He was in a good amount of pain.
The Yankees kept inflicting it.
Their 18-game winning streak at Camden Yards following the victory in nine innings in the opener was tied for the longest in the American League in the Modern Era and tied for second in the majors.
There’s always more. You just have to dig.
They homered in 22 straight games against the Orioles heading into the nightcap. The record is 23 in a row by the Blue Jays versus the Twins from 2015-18 and the Indians versus the Twins from 1995-96.
Another streak ended tonight. López and Valdez kept them in the ballpark.
Update: Ramón Urías was returned to the alternate camp site.
Hyde on López: “That was big for us. We had very, very limited options out of the bullpen and Lopie took the ball. Actually wanted to go back out for the sixth. He was feeling that good. He had a really good fifth inning. I thought he threw the ball great. He really should have given up no runs. We really didn’t help him out defensively, kind of like the start in Buffalo. But I thought he did a good job. Like to see him throw more strikes at times, but put a lot of balls on the ground, was very, very competitive. Gave us exactly what we needed.”
Hyde on beating Yankees: “We’ve had a tough time against them. They’re a good club. The Game 1 was disappointing because we had opportunities there. We’ve had opportunities in the past and haven’t finished it. Tonight we finished the second game of the DH. And we pitched. That was the key to the game. Lopie, César Valdez with two really good innings out of the bullpen and some tack-on runs after we got the lead. Took a little pressure off. Those last three outs are never easy.”
Hyde on Mountcastle: “I just love the athleticism he’s showing. To jailbreak and beat out that ground ball to third base there, he showed you the raw power, he’s playing a nice left field and he’s playing hungry. And it’s really fun to watch a young guy with hype playing with this much energy and this much confidence. He’s been a big boost and it’s been a lot of fun to watch him.”
López on start: “I felt really good. I tried to attack with my sinker all I can. I feel like I executed every single pitch and that’s all I was worried about. ... It was such a long night, I was trying to get quick everything. Try to go with the plan and execute right away, pitch by pitch.”
López on Mountcastle: “He’s going to be a special kid for the Orioles. He’s having great at-bats. Just unbelievable executing pitch by pitch. He’s a guy, he’s going to do a lot of damage in the future and you keep trusting every game. I tell you what, he’s going to be good.”
Mountcastle on beating Yankees: “After we scored those runs in the sixth or whatever it was, you could tell the energy just definitely bumped up a lot, because we were a little down after that first game. But we rallied back and it was a good win.”
Mountcastle on what he’s done so far: “I feel like I still have something to prove. I just like going out there and playing hard every day and working on my craft before the games and stuff. But I still feel like I can do a little better in some areas, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s started so far.”
Mountcastle on his speed up the line: “I like to run hard, play hard. And maybe people might look at me and think I’m a little bit slower than I am. So maybe some sneaky speed might get a couple hits like the one tonight.”