Winning formula in the Bronx: López and the longball

In an impressive 7-1 win in the series opener in the Bronx against the New York Yankees, Orioles fans could have fun debating which was more vital tonight: the O’s hitting four solo homers or Jorge López delivering a huge six-inning outing, the latest deeper start by an O’s pitcher?

Both were very important to the Orioles taking the opener of the three-game set. They lost the first two games they played against the Yankees this year but now are 5-4 in the last nine this season against New York.

Tonight they beat a hot Yankees team, one that had just swept Miami, won 10 of 14 and was 15-7 since July 4.

The Orioles (38-67) have won seven of their past 10 games, improved to 5-6 versus the Yankees and to 10-6 in the second half.

López walked a career-high five batters and hit another, but pitched around some early trouble, stranding four runners in the first two innings when the Yankees went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. He did not give up a hit until Joey Gallo’s double leading off the last of the sixth, and Yankees batters went just 1-for-18 against him.

López went six innings for the first time since June 27, snapping a run of six consecutive starts of fewer than five frames. He had pitched less than five innings in 14 of his first 21 starts this year. He also began the night with an 0-2 record and an 8.44 ERA this year in three starts versus New York. And he was 1-3 with a 7.23 ERA in six career starts.

But that all changed tonight.

He gave up the one hit and one run with the five walks to go with four strikeouts. He threw 106 pitches, 58 for strikes. That is a season-high pitch total and six short of his career-most from a 2019 start. He improved to 3-12 with an ERA of 5.91.

The Orioles are now 7-0 in the second half when their starting pitcher goes six innings or more. And they have done that seven times in the past 14 games.

Lefty Andrew Heaney was making his Yankees debut after they acquired him last week for two minor league pitchers from the Los Angeles Angels, where he went 6-7 with a 5.27 ERA in 18 starts.

On Aug. 18, 2017 he gave up a career-high four homers in a start versus the Orioles at Camden Yards. He matched that career high tonight.

Hays-Swung-Gray-sidebar.jpgWith two outs and none on in a scoreless game in the third inning, Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays hit back-to-back homers for the 2-0 lead. Mullins hit a 3-2 fastball for No. 18 and Hays hit No. 11 on a 1-1 fastball. An inning later the Orioles led 4-0 when Ryan Mountcastle (No. 18) and Ramón Urías (No. 5) hit solo homers.

This is the third game this year the O’s have hit four or more. They hit a season-high six on June 19 versus Toronto and hit four on June 29 at Houston.

Heaney, by the way, began tonight with a homer rate of 1.5 for every nine innings, both this season and for his career. While he had allowed three homers in a game three times this year, he had given up just two over his last four starts and 22 1/3 innings before the O’s bashed him around tonight.

The Orioles had been hitting a few home runs lately, with 17 in the previous 10 games as this series began. They hit two or more in seven of those 10 games.

This was a nice start to a tough stretch for the Orioles. Beginning with this game, they will play six straight, 13 of 16 and 22 of the next 31 games versus American League East teams. They will play 38 of their last 58 games within the division.

The longball and a very strong starting pitching performance put the O’s in the win column tonight as they posted a real good win in the Bronx.

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