It was very, very hard-earned.
A win that moved them alone into first-place at 4-2 atop the American League East as they head to Baltimore for the home opener tomorrow. A win that ended on a 9-2 double play when right fielder Anthony Santander threw out the tie run at the plate.
With the game tied 3-3 in the 11th inning the Orioles took the lead on a pinch-hit flared single to left by struggling Chance Sisco. It scored Rio Ruiz, who began the inning placed at second base and moved to third on a Freddy Galvis bunt. Sisco hit for No. 9 hitter Ramón Urías and came through with a go-ahead hit. As he stood in the box he was 1-for-8 with six strikeouts this year.
Now with the O’s again back in the lead, the game would end on that play at home in the last of the 11th. Gio Urshela was at third with one out when DJ LeMahieu lined a ball to right. Santander caught it and threw Urshela out easily at the plate, and an exhausting night was over in victory for the Orioles.
They won 4-3 on a night they got outhit 13-4 and struck out 17 times.
New York tied it 3-3 with a two-out RBI single by Kyle Higashioka in their half of the 10th. The O’s were an out away from winning when Higashioka lined a 2-0 single to right. César Valdez then fanned Urshela to get the game to the 11th.
Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres made a low throw with two outs and Santander on third base in the top of the 10th. Santander scored on the E6 and the Orioles went ahead 3-2.
With Santander placed at second to start the inning and right-hander Chad Green on for New York after Aroldis Chapman had pitched the ninth, the first two O’s grounded out. The second of those advanced Santander 90 feet. Pedro Severino hit a grounder to short that should have ended the inning. But the low throw put Baltimore ahead.
Valdez got credit for the win, pitching 2 1/3 innings allowing one unearned run and Paul Fry pitched the 11th for a save to cap a night of strong bullpen pitching.
The Orioles got a pair of solo homers much earlier to take a 2-1 lead. They avoided getting swept, even though they scored just six runs this series. And they ended a 12-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium that dated to May 15, 2019.
When the Orioles batted in the fourth against Yankees right-hander Jameson Taillon, they trailed this game 1-0 and had scored two runs in 21 innings in this series.
They had hit one homer all year and had none through the season’s first 44 innings. That changed quickly.
Cedric Mullins and Santander homered within a span of three batters as the Orioles took a 2-1 lead. Mullins got a changeup that found too much of the plate for Taillon’s taste, and he hit it 406 feet to right for a 1-1 tie. It was his first homer and made him 12-for-23 on the season. After Trey Mancini struck out, Santander lined a homer to right-center on an 0-1 fastball. He hit the ball 109.7 mph and a distance of 401 feet as the O’s took a 2-1 lead.
So no homers over 44 innings and three in their last five dating to Ruiz’s in the ninth last night.
The Yankees had taken a 1-0 lead in the third against Means. No. 9 hitter Brett Gardner led off with a single and went to second on LeMahieu’s single. With one out, Aaron Hicks singled to center to score Gardner for the 1-0 lead.
Means’ pitch count was getting escalated by a 23-pitch first inning, where he stranded two, and a 20-pitch fourth, when he left two more on base.
The O’s bullpen preserved the 2-1 lead over the fifth and sixth innings. Dillon Tate came on for Means with two on and two outs in the fifth and got Clint Frazier to ground out on a 3-2 pitch. In the sixth he allowed a double with one out and then, with two down, Tanner Scott came on. He fanned Brett Gardner on three pitches to strand the potential tie run. The 0-2 pitch was a foul tip at 100 mph.
Means’ final line showed seven hits and one run allowed over 4 2/3 and 93 pitches. He got 17 whiffs on 45 swings but he didn’t get a win. He came up an out short of qualifying for that, but he does have an ERA of just 0.77 through two starts.
Meanwhile, Scott was dealing again in the seventh. With a man on first and one out, he fell behind Aaron Hicks 3-1 and struck him out. He fell behind Giancarlo Stanton 2-0 and struck him out. Stanton swung and missed three straight buried sliders. Scott fanned three in 1 1/3 innings.
Shawn Armstrong, who gave up a grand slam on Monday, yielded the tie run in the last of the eighth. He was very close, however, to pitching a 1-2-3 inning. But a Gary Sánchez liner to left glanced off the end of the glove of left fielder Ryan Mountcastle. Sánchez, not running hard to first, was held to a single. Mike Tauchman came in to pinch-run. When Urshela doubled to left, Tauchman came around to score, sliding in safely with the game-tying run. It was a 2-2 game. The bullpen and defense finally broke down as the Yankees tied the game.
But on the night the O’s ‘pen allowed just one earned run over 6 1/3 innings with six strikeouts.
Manager Brandon Hyde, via Zoom, on the victory: “Yeah, I feel fortunate. You get four hits through 11 innings against the New York Yankees, you’re not usually going to win. Credit goes to our guys for battling, staying with it. Our bullpen really did a great job. A lot of good things on the mound tonight for us. Got a couple of big homers from Mullins and Santander, and Chance (Sisco) was a nine-iron single. But our bullpen won us that game.”
Hyde on the game-ending double play: “Well, he (LeMahieu) hit the ball to the right guy. I knew that it was a line drive. Tony can really throw and he throws accurately. You saw it on the throw that was in the eighth. Made a nice throw there, too. But he let this one go knowing there’s no batter-runner. To get it all the way to the plate, and made a really strong throw. ... Sevy did a really nice job (on the) tag.”
Hyde on the bullpen’s improvement and potential: “We still don’t have a ton of experience down there. So games like this, you definitely feel like it’s going to boost their confidence (and) continue to grow. Tanner Scott, that was lights-out stuff. Really happy with how Dillon Tate threw the ball. Paul Fry there at the end, came in, tough situation, pumping strikes. Huge. And then César Valdez, he’s just a really good pitcher and he’s just a weapon - he can do so many different things. Really happy with how our guys threw.”
Hyde on Means’ start: “I thought Johnny battled. I didn’t think he had his best stuff. I didn’t think he had the breaking balls he had in Boston. The pitch count was up, but he showed the kind of competitor he is without his best stuff, being able to grind through five innings and only giving up a run to a really, really good lineup. ... But I thought it was just an overall battle for John and he just showed the competitor he is by being able to get through five innings without his best stuff.”
Hyde on Mountcastle’s misplay in left field: “I haven’t seen it, I haven’t seen the replay on it. It came off hot off the bat, probably was hooking. It’s windy. I don’t really want to comment on that until I see it again. But Ryan’s going to make some mistakes in left field. He’s played there for a month. He did a nice job in left field last year. This year, he’s continuing to grow, he’s continuing to learn ballparks and understand how to play the outfield. It’s not a finished product yet by any means. He’s going to make mistakes. That’s OK. We’re going to live with them because we believe in the player.”
Means on finally beating the Yankees in New York: “Definitely, it feels good to beat these guys. Obviously, it’s been a while that we’ve beat them in their own place. But I thought we showed some guts today, avoiding the sweep and just going out there and playing. It was just a gritty game the whole way through. I’m really proud of our guys.”
Means on growth of the bullpen: “Tanner coming in and completely shutting the door. I mean, he’s a completely new pitcher. I mean, he’s got the same stuff, but the command he has now makes him almost unhittable, it really does. He’s come a long way. Also Tate - Tate just goes out and he attacks and does his job. He’s got some unbelievable stuff, too. We got so much talent in that bullpen that it’s going to be good for a long time.”
Scott on the bullpen’s improvement: “It’s definitely improved a lot. We go out there and, I mean, everyone’s goal is to go out there and give everything they’ve got and hang a zero. At the end of the day, everyone’s been doing great.”
Scott on finally winning in Yankee Stadium: “Every win’s great. I mean, so this one was just as good. I mean, we’re going to try to continue it and go from there.”
SantanDAAAAAAAAA... pic.twitter.com/RFN5efm40J-- Baltimore Orioles 😷 (@Orioles) April 8, 2021