It sure took a while on Sunday, and it wasn’t supposed to go this way, but the Orioles beat the Yankees 7-5 and took two of three in the weekend series. In the three games, the Orioles scored 14 runs and the Yankees scored 15 runs.
Down one in run differential, but more importantly up one in the standings and ahead of all but the Rays, who are 3-1 in the American League East after opening weekend.
Orioles pitchers made clutch pitches throughout the last two days. New York went 2-for-12 (.167) with runners in scoring position on Sunday and 6-for-29 (.207) in the series. The big trio of Aaron Judge-Giancarlo Stanton-Luke Voit went a combined 5-for-23 the last two days after combining to reach base in 11 of 14 plate appearances in the Yanks’ season-opening win. O’s batters went 10-for-25 (.400) in the series with RISP.
Lefty John Means, making his second major league appearance, gave the Orioles a very solid 3 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run yesterday. He picked up his first major league win. Means did allow all three of the runners he inherited from Dylan Bundy to score after he entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the last of the fourth.
Means walked Brett Gardner on the 11th pitch of the plate appearance to force in a run. Then Judge singled to right to score two. An O’s 4-0 lead was suddenly down to 4-3. But over the fourth, fifth and sixth, Means threw 79 pitches. He threw 35 changeups, getting swings and misses on 12 of them. He got nine swings and misses on his first 15 changeups versus the Yankees. On the MASN telecast, Jim Palmer said he liked both the arm action and pitch action on the Means changeups.
Starter Bundy did not allow a hit through two innings, but needed 35 pitches to get the first six outs. He gave up a leadoff double and walk in the third and then got out of that jam, getting Gardner to pop out and striking out Judge and Voit. But he needed 30 pitches that inning, and when New York loaded the bases in the fourth, Bundy was out of there with his pitch count at 93. He left with a zero on the board until Gardner battled Means for a walk and Judge got a clutch hit.
O’s starters covered just 9 2/3 innings in this series, pitching to an 8.38 ERA, while the bullpen was needed for 16 1/3 innings and worked to a 3.31 ERA.
The Orioles did not hit a homer in the series’ first two games but yesterday got a three-run shot from Renato Núñez, a solo from Trey Mancini and a two-run shot to right by Joey Rickard. The longball produced six of their seven runs.
It was not a bad weekend for a rookie manager and the club that is the youngest in Major League Baseball with an average player age of 27 years, 150 days.
So now for the Orioles the road trip continues in Toronto. The Birds went 0-10 at Rogers Centre last year. They were out-homered 35-20 and outscored 63-28. They had series when they went 0-4 and 0-3 twice north of the border.
The Blue Jays split their season-opening four-game series versus Detroit and lost in extra innings Sunday. Toronto won via shutouts on Friday and Saturday and allowed just five runs in that series. Blue Jays starting pitchers threw 24 scoreless innings against Detroit. That is the most by a team to start the season since Atlanta’s rotation began the 1994 season with 25 scoreless