For one night anyway, O’s-Yankees looked a lot like 2019

The first Orioles-Yankees game of 2020 looked like so many others from last summer. The Yankees bashed three home runs and they won by a comfortable margin. The O’s lost their home opener 9-3 at Oriole Park.

DJ LeMahieu homered on the second pitch of the night and New York added two more homers in the third. Aaron Judge hit a solo shot and Aaron Hicks a two-run homer. On its way to going 10-0 in Baltimore in 2019, the Yankees hit 43 homers. They hit two or more in every game at Camden Yards last season, and nine times hit three or more, as they did last night.

Yankees hitters seemed to be very ready for a couple of elevated pitches last night from O’s right-hander Asher Wojciechowski. Each homer was off a pitch at the top of the strike zone.

Wojciechowski got 18 swings and misses among his 92 pitches, which was four more that Cole’s pitching induced. Wojciechowski threw a combined 60 curves and sliders and got 15 swings and misses on the breaking balls. Maybe it’s something to build on for him. But the frustration for O’s fans is that he fanned seven in five innings and at times had some strong stuff, but still New York hit three longballs and won the game easily.

The Orioles are going to need to get to a point where they are more competitive with New York, a team that has now beaten the Orioles 17 straight times since last March 31. How they do that is the question. And when. The 17 straight wins by the Yankees over the Orioles is their third-longest winning streak against a single opponent in franchise history behind only a 19-game winning streak over the Philadelphia A’s in 1938-39 and a franchise-record 21-game streak over the St. Louis Browns in 1927.

Yes this is embarrassing in Birdland.

Maybe lefty John Means can be a streak stopper tonight when he comes off the injured list and makes his season debut. It’s a tough ask for a pitcher coming off the IL in his first start of the year. But it has to start somewhere and soon.

Wheeling and dealing: The Major League Baseball trade deadline will be Aug. 31 this year. Teams should have about 24 or 25 games remaining in a 60-game season at that point. People around the industry are wondering what the trade deadline will look like in 2020.

Will a club like the Orioles be in a position to trade a veteran for young talent, as they did last year? Last July 13 the Orioles dealt right-hander Andrew Cashner to the Boston Red Sox for young international talent Elio Prado and Noelberth Romero.

Cobb-Throws-Black-Fenway-Sidebar.jpgSuch a trade is potentially harder to make this year since clubs can only trade players on their 60-man player pools. No organization I know of is carrying 16 or 17-year-old Dominican kids on their player pool. Some teams may have top prospects on their player pools, but are they going to trade those players for a one month rental? Or even for a player who is under team control beyond this year, such as O’s right-hander Alex Cobb, who is signed through 2021?

It’s complicated, and O’s executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said recently he’s not sure how this trade deadline is going to play out.

“I really don’t know what this trade market is going to look like this year,” he said during a Zoom interview. “There are so many factors it’s hard to cover them all, and that makes it just a total unknown. One is the expanded playoffs, and presumably that would make more teams be looking to buy. But also some teams could perhaps view this year as more of a crapshoot because of how short it is. The playoffs might be hard to get through the first couple of rounds. You also have the financial impact of the coronavirus, and teams may have very limited to no budget flexibility for this year. There are just a lot of factors and I really don’t know how to predict it will play out. We’re just going to have to see.

“I’ve said all along the general manager’s job is to look at players moves. So we’ll see what comes our way with any of our players as far as the season goes. But I think he’s (Cobb) going to be an enormous help for us this year and helping out our young pitchers getting though the year and winning games. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, it’s going to be a big year for him.”

By the way, did the Orioles get around one of the trade rules yesterday when they sent pitcher Hector Velázquez to Houston for a player to be named later? Does this mean the O’s could later add a player not currently on the Astros’ 60-man player pool? That is how I read it, and the O’s may indeed have found a way to avoid the rule of the new player having to be on a club’s 60-man pool.

More honors for Mo: The Orioles did a great job on opening night of honoring Mo Gaba, who passed away at 14 on Tuesday. Here is what they ran during their pregame ceremony, and below that you can see how Mo was even honored on the Yankees’ telecast as well. So deserved for this great young man.

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