Strikeouts mount as O’s lose again to Yankees

For the Orioles, the strikeouts and the frustrations are both mounting.

After riding a high-scoring 18 runs in sweeping three games in Boston, the Orioles have been doing a lot of swinging and missing while losing the first two games of their series in the Bronx.

The Birds were held to seven hits and fanned 14 times tonight, losing 7-2 to right-hander Gerrit Cole and the Yankees.

An out away from being blanked for the second night in a row, Ryan Mountcastle beat out an infield single with two outs in the ninth. Rio Ruiz followed with a two-run homer to right. It’s Baltimore’s first homer of 2021.

The O’s missed a big scoring chance in the first inning and so did the Yankees. The O’s would get few other chances to do much of anything against Cole as the game went on.

Baltimore batters struck out 15 times in winning Sunday and 13 in a shutout loss last night. When their hitters had struck out 12 times in the first six innings tonight against Cole, that meant the Birds had fanned 40 times in their previous 24 innings dating to Sunday’s first pitch.

They had a chance to get an early lead at the outset tonight. Cedric Mullins, who began the game batting .588, singled to center. With No. 2 hitter Trey Mancini batting, Mullins stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. But Cole induced Mancini to chase a 3-2 slider for a strikeout. Then, on a bouncer to first base, Mullins was cut down at home. When Mountcastle fouled out, the inning ended minus a run.

Kremer-Delivers-Gray-NYY-Sidebar.jpgNew York’s first inning began with a 108 mph single off the bat of DJ LeMahieu. Aaron Judge then drilled one 110 mph and it went off Dean Kremer’s left leg for a single. That might have left a bruise, but Kremer stayed in and walked Brett Gardner to load the bases with no outs. But Kremer then struck out Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier. No runs for New York either in a 24-pitch inning.

But in the second, Jay Bruce hit a fly ball to right. It went just 354 feet, but that was enough to get over the wall for the 1-0 lead.

Kremer had a bit of a slog after that getting some outs but working deep counts and struggling to put hitters away. He seemed to get away from attack mode when he walked the bottom of the order with no outs in the last of the fourth. Adam Plutko came on and got a double play grounder, but a run scored for a 2-0 lead. Then Judge singled to right and it was 3-0.

The way Cole was pitching that felt like a huge lead.

Cole went seven scoreless innings on four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. He is 1-0 with an ERA of 1.46 in two starts. Yankees starters have thrown 13 scoreless innings with no walks and 20 strikeouts in the series.

In seven career games, Cole is 3-1 with a 1.36 ERA versus the Orioles. Over 39 2/3 innings, he has walked six and fanned 57.

Judge hit a three-run homer off Wade LeBlanc in the eighth. That gave New York a 7-0 lead and Judge a four-RBI game.

The Orioles have lost 12 in a row at Yankee Stadium. They have scored just five runs in losing six straight there since last Sept. 11. They have scored zero, one, one, one, zero and two runs in those games.

In baseball, a team’s fortunes can change fast. The O’s have gone from enjoying the winning feeling to back-to-back losses in New York. John Means will try to pitch them to a win to avoid a sweep on Wednesday night.

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