It was a strange sequence of events tonight. In the last of the fourth Orioles right-hander Matt Harvey gave up two runs as his scoreless innings streak came to an end. When the last of the fifth began, he was out of the game. These two instances did not seem to be related.
No way O’s skipper Brandon Hyde would take out a pitcher who had been throwing as well as Harvey recently at just 63 pitches, you would think, and immediately the thought of an injury came to mind. Although it did seem that Harvey showed no outward sign of an issue as New York scored twice to pull within 3-2 of the Orioles in the series finale.
But a few innings later in this game, O’s pitchers walked the first two batters in the seventh in a tie game. That is never a good idea, and this allowed New York to produce a big inning to beat the Orioles 10-3 at Yankee Stadium and win this series.
Right-hander Cole Sulser had pitched a scoreless sixth in the 3-3 game but walked No. 8 hitter Kyle Higashioka leading off the seventh, and Hyde went to Paul Fry, who then walked pinch-hitter Gary Sánchez. Batting next, leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu smoked one up the middle, off the glove of second baseman Ramón Urías into center for an RBI single and 4-3 lead. Two outs later, right-hander Dillon Tate issued the third walk of the inning to load the bases. Giancarlo Stanton then blooped one down the right-field line. First baseman Ryan Mountcastle reached out to try to make an over-the-shoulder catch, but the ball was just out of his reach. It went for a huge three-run double. When Gleyber Torres followed with another double to score Stanton, it was a five-run inning and 8-3 lead.
Much earlier, the Orioles struck first and took a 2-0 lead on the Yankees to start the game. In a span of the first five batters, they scored twice to double last night’s run output.
Cedric Mullins led off with a single to right to extend his hitting streak to 13 games in a row. He was running on the pitch when Urías singled to left and scampered to third. When left fielder Joey Gallo bobbled the ball, Urías took second and Gallo was charged with an error. After Trey Mancini struck out, the O’s took a 1-0 lead on Mountcastle’s sac fly to right. Aaron Judge made a strong throw home, but the speedy Mullins beat the throw and the Orioles had a 1-0 lead.
Mountcastle took the team RBI lead tonight with No. 61. He’s driven in a at least one run in six consecutive games, and Urías took third on the play. He would then score on a bloop single to left by Austin Hays for the 2-0 edge and RBI No. 38 for Hays.
Yankees right-hander Jameson Taillon had given up just four earned runs combined over his five July starts, going 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA and .182 batting average against. But the Orioles got to him for two runs and three hits in a 22-pitch top of the first.
After Taillon settled in and fanned five batters over the second and third innings, Mountcastle greeted him with a longball leading off in the top of the fourth. He took advantage of the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium and hit a first-pitch fastball into the front row. The O’s took a 3-0 lead as Mountcastle hit No. 19 to tie Mancini for the club lead.
With the homer, to that point, Mountcastle was 13-for-26 over seven games with four doubles, three homers and six RBIs. He also had 11 hits his last 18 at-bats.
Harvey needed just 40 pitches to get through the first three innings, allowing no hits and facing the minimum nine batters.
But with one out in the fourth his scoreless innings streak ended at 21 2/3 innings. Anthony Rizzo, who had drawn a 13-pitch walk in the first, homered to right-center and New York was down 3-1 on his 17th. He hit the ball 421 feet to get the Yankees on the board. Batting next, Judge hit a popup to short right that fell in for a single and should not have. Whether it was the shifted infield or right fielder DJ Stewart who could not get there, someone should have been able to catch that ball, but no one did. That play hurt when, given an extra out, a Gleyber Torres two-out single pulled New York within 3-2.
Harvey had thrown three straight scoreless outings of six innings or more, entering tonight with his run at 18 1/3 innings. No O’s pitcher had ever done that four games in a row, and Harvey would not tonight.
César Valdez replaced him to start the fifth and the Yankees tied it 3-3 off him on Higashioka’s double and LeMahieu’s RBI single.
Harvey allowed three hits and two runs over four innings with two walks and one strikeout. He threw 63 pitches, 43 for strikes. Over his past four starts, totaling 22 1/3 innings, he allowed just the two runs for an ERA of 0.81 in that span, and now he’s got a 6.13 ERA for the year.
His scoreless run was the longest current one in the majors, and in Harvey’s career. It was the longest stretch by an Oriole pitcher since Steve Johnson threw 25 1/3 scoreless innings from Aug. 25-Sept. 29, 2012.
Taillon also did not get a decision, allowing three runs (two earned) and four hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked one and fanned 10 on 90 pitches before giving way to Jonathan Loaisiga in the seventh.
The Orioles fall to 38-69 and lose a series for just the second time in the second half. They are 10-8 since the break and off tomorrow before hosting Tampa Bay on Friday night at Camden Yards.
Hyde on why Harvey left the game: “He tweaked his knee a little bit on the comebacker. I think it was in the third, and then in the fourth when he had to cover first base, it bit on him a little bit there too. So we’re hoping that, he’s going to have two extra days off, everything checked out OK, we’re hoping he’s going to be able to make his next start.”
Hyde on the balls that dropped in the outfield today: “I think all three were different. The one early in the game that fell shallow right, it was twilight, the wind was blowing that way. I just thought that DJ couldn’t get there. Ramón, I don’t think, saw it right away, lost it in kind of a tough sky and we just didn’t get to the ball. The last one with Hays and Richie there, for me that was a bit of a miscommunication. Yeah, we just didn’t play our best defense tonight. Walks late and defense, that hurt us tonight.”
Harvey on his injury: “It’s my push-off leg. You know, I reached down to get that ball that Torres hit and just kind of felt a little tweak. It was nothing serious, and then went to cover, it just felt tight. I think going forward in the outing, like, I couldn’t quite push off the rubber and stay in my mechanics like I needed to.”
Harvey, do you think you can make your next start?: “Yeah, I definitely do. We have some extra days with the off-days coming in. I got right in and iced it. I don’t think it’s serious at all.”