They did it. The Yankees finally won a series at the Camden Yards. It is their first since Sept. 9-12, 2013. Phil Hughes started that series finale, David Huff relieved, Eduardo Nunez was the starting third baseman, Alfonso Soriano hit third and Mariano Rivera got the win. Since then, they lost 11 consecutive series in Baltimore… which snapped today. Thank God. Sonny Gray and the bullpen corps held the O’s hitters to one run and the lineup gathered four dingers and nine runs to make it an easy win. Good game. Would watch again.
The Yankees didn’t waste any time. In the top of the first, Brett Gardner worked a walk to lead it off. The next two hitters – Chase Headley and Starlin Castro – struck out, but Gardy stole the second base to put himself in the scoring position. Didi Gregorius, today’s cleanup hitter, hit a double down the first base line to drive a run in. Aaron Judge, not to be outdone, hit a monster blast into the right-center seats for a 2-run homer. 3-0 Yankees.
Two innings later, Yankees got another rally going. Didi reached on an infield single (originally ruled an error by Tim Beckham but later changed) and Judge walked to set up a RISP situation. Matt Holliday jerked a single into right field to bring Gardy in. With runners on first and third, Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into an RBI fielder’s choice to make it 5-0 Yankees. The barrage continued on in the 4th inning. With Mike Wright pitching for the Orioles, Gardner hit a double and Headley followed it up with a two-run homer to make it a seven-run lead.
The Yankees took a break in the fifth but went right back at it in the sixth. With two outs, Castro received a Donnie Hart fastball down the zone and drove it into the home bullpen. Think you were done with home runs? Todd Frazier hit a solo homer off Richard Rodriguez in the seventh inning – his 23rd of the year. 9-1 Yankees. And that’s how the score would remain for good. Easy peasy.
Sonny day real estate
Sonny Gray allowed the lone run in the sixth inning and it was unearned. With runners on first and second and two outs, Gray induced a grounder from Trey Mancini that should have been an easy 6-4 putout. However, Gregorius was off-balance when tossing the ball to Castro and it sailed way over his head, leading to an Oriole run.
Let’s talk about the positives. In 5.2 IP, Gray induced 10 ground outs and only 2 in the air. After allowing dinger after dinger the last start vs. Red Sox, it was pretty neat to see him get back to his ground ball-heavy game. After getting through the first three innings easily, Gray labored a bit in the last 2.2 IP, allowing a baserunner in scoring position in each frame. However, it’s hard not to chalk it up as a good start for Gray, who improved to 9-9 this season with a 3.22 ERA.
After Gray departed with two outs in the sixth inning, Girardi brought in Chad Green, who had thrown 36 pitches in 2.1 IP just this past Monday. With expanded rosters and a seven-run lead, Girardi maybe could have brought in someone like Ben Heller in this situation… but at the same time, Orioles lineup isn’t something to be taken lightly. That was probably the best chance that the O’s had to try to turn the game around. After blowing a 6-1 lead two days ago, I’d assume Girardi wanted no part of that possibility. Luckily, Green immediately denied the O’s by striking out Seth Smith. Green went on to take care of another inning after that. I’d have to guess Girardi will give him a rest tomorrow.
Tommy Kahnle came in the eighth inning and threw a scoreless frame. After him, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre relief ace Ben Heller actually got to pitch the ninth! He ended the game pretty swiftly, tossing a perfect, 12-pitch frame. If you missed the game, check out this snake-like fastball by Heller. It is sort of mesmerizing.
You know your offense really had it going when Austin Romine had a two-hit game. Each starter had at least a base hit (13 total). Judge stayed on-brand by hitting a homer, walking once and striking out twice. Gregorius had a particularly good day, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Gardner, who went 2-for-3, also had two walks and saw 30 pitches total – 6 pitches per plate appearance, not bad.
The Yankees will head down south for a three-game series against the Rangers. Masahiro Tanaka will be up on the mound against Martin Perez on Friday night.