So close, yet so far. The Yankees took a 6-1 lead early that was reduced to a 6-5 lead late. They managed to hold it until the bottom of the ninth with two outs, but Dellin Betances allowed a two-run walk-off home run to Manny Machado to lose it. Brutal game. Would have been a good opportunity to gain ground in AL East and AL Wild Card standings. Let’s recap this game and never talk about it again.
Not great CC
CC Sabathia got into a little pickle in the first. After getting the first two outs, he issued a free pass to Jonathan Schoop and an infield single to Adam Jones (it was a dribbler that went down along the third base line and never crossed to the foul territory). A wild pitch made it runners on second and third with Trey Mancini up. Mancini hit a soft grounder just out of CC’s reach and Didi Gregorius could not come up with a clean scoop. 1-0 Orioles. Just an unlucky inning for Sabathia.
Fast forward to bottom of the third, with the Yankees having taken a 6-1 lead, the Orioles got one right back. Leading off the inning, a very good baseball player Manny Machado got a low offering from CC and drove it into the home bullpen for a solo HR. The O’s added another homer in the fifth with a Schoop bomb. He sat on the first pitch that Sabathia threw and did not miss any of it. The game got dicier when Mark Trumbo hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to make it 6-5. It was the first time all season that Sabathia allowed three home runs in a game. Basically, CC got unlucky in the first inning and made mistakes to three big power hitters of the Orioles. Not a highlight reel night.
Piling it on
After going quiet in the first two innings, the Yankees struck in the bottom of the third. Austin Romine singled to lead off the inning. After a Brett Gardner line out, Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro got hit in the forearm to load the bases. Gregorius squared up on a hanging breaking ball into the right field for a two-RBI single. After Matt Holliday walked to load the bases, Buck Showalter pulled the plug on Jeremy Hellickson and brought in the former Yankee Richard Bleier.
Against Bleier, Greg Bird hit a fly ball to center that looked like a sure sac fly… but Jones dropped it. It seemed like he was surely going to get it but he may have rushed it to try to start the throw quickly. As a result, all baserunners moved up and Yankees took a 3-1 lead. Todd Frazier followed it up with a RBI fielder’s choice ground out for a 4-1 score. Jacoby Ellsbury continued on the piling by hitting a hard single just past Tim Beckham’s reach. Both runners on scoring position scored to make it 6-1 Yankees (three earned and three unearned runs). What an odd inning but I’ll take it. It would also be the only inning that the Yankees scored all game.
Hold onto your butts
Because Sabathia only went 5.1 IP with a one-run lead, the Yankees had to utilize their bullpen to hold it against the red-hot Orioles lineup (remember, they have been on a roll prior to this series). Tommy Kahnle took care of the last two outs of the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, Yankees had a chance to score in the top of the eighth. Ellsbury led off with a single. A hitter later, Gardner hit a dribbler that ended up becoming an infield single. With one out and runners on first and second, Judge stepped in and… struck out. Castro followed it up with a pop out to strand two. That missed opportunity would loom large later on.
The Yankees turned to Aroldis Chapman for the eighth inning. The narrative for him this season is that, well, he’s been on the struggle train. However, he turned in a nice 1-2-3 inning tonight, taking care of Trumbo and Mancini with ground outs and Chris Davis with a looking strike out. Just like the last time out, his fastball life seemed to be noticeably back. Again, having a good Chapman in the September stretch (and beyond) would be very critical.
After being shut down 1-2-3 by Zach Britton in the top of the ninth, Yankees put in Betances to close it out. Wellington Castillo gave it a ride but he hit it to the deepest part of the ballpark and Ellsbury hauled it in for an out. Pedro Alvarez, pinch-hitting for the first ML at-bat of the season, predictably struck out. Two outs, one more to go. Betances walked Beckham on five pitches and had to face the dangerous Manny Machado to finish it out. However, on the second offering, Betances hung a 84-mph curveball and Machado simply hammered it out of there (431 feet – he got a lot of it). Oof. One great talent eclipsed the other. 7-6 Orioles. Game over.
The Yankees will look to take the series tomorrow with Sonny Gray on the mound, assuming the weather cooperates. The Orioles will have Kevin Gausman. Will New York finally win a series at the Camden Yards? Stay tuned.