You can lose in many ways, and the way the Yankees lost tonight was quite frustrating. New York took a nice 5-1 lead — padded by homers by Matt Holliday and Gary Sanchez — and let the Orioles score five unanswered runs to lose this one 6-5. Their record fell to 1-3.
Taking the lead
The Yankees got the first inning started with a Brett Gardner single, a stolen base, and a Gary Sanchez walk. Greg Bird swung right through a 91 mph fastball right down the middle to strike out but Holiday sliced a single to right to bring Gardner in for a 1-0 lead. Jacoby Ellsbury followed it up with a strike out and Starlin Castro popped up to end the threat. Could’ve scored more there but a lead is a lead nonetheless.
The Orioles got a run back quite quickly. Luis Severino allowed a double to Seth Smith to start the bottom of first and an RBI-single to Adam Jones (which just went past Greg Bird’s reach). After Manny Machado struck out, Chris Davis followed it up with a hard grounder that was stopped by Castro but not quite fielded, making it runners on first and second with one out. The Yankees had a chance to end the frame with a double play but Chase Headley‘s throw to second hit Jones in the helmet. Not a banner inning for the Yankee defense — but with Severino striking out Wellington Castillo, they got out of it allowing only one run.
Holliday was in charge of another set of runs later on. With Gardner on third, Holliday absolutely squared up on a hanging splitter from Ubaldo Jimenez for a two-run home run. 3-1 Yankees. During the Yankees’ slow start, Holliday’s emergence has been a bright spot. After tonight, he’s hitting .308/.438/.615. Not expecting that to be sustainable but he’s hitting and seeing the ball very well, which is what all you could ask of him.
Top of the fifth, Gary Sanchez finally got to join in on the fun. With Gardner on second with a double, Jimenez hung another splitter up the zone and Sanchez ruthlessly punished him, driving the ball way into the deep part of the left field seats for a 5-1 Yankees lead. We’ve seen Sanchez hit some scorching grounders in the first few games of the season. This is what happened when he was able to elevate it for a long, long distance.
Severino: not quite there yet
I felt that Severino was cruising along until the bottom of fifth. Before allowing that three-run homer to Machado, he had allowed only one run in 4.2 IP while striking out five. His fastball averaged at 96.8 mph, which meant he was throwing pure gas pretty much the entire start. His fastball also had a nice 10.80 average vertical movement, which means that the fastball showed some nice rise. Not bad at all.
However, after allowing a single to Schoop and walking Jones, Sevy allowed a three-run home run to Machado to make it 5-4 Yankees. That was one major blemish of his start — could’ve been a much nicer-looking start at, let’s say, one run allowed in five innings. I don’t think he really missed his spot either. Sanchez barely moved his glove but Machado used his quick hands and power to drive it out of the park. He’s one gifted ballplayer.
Blowing the lead
After Jonathan Holder and Tommy Layne combined for a scoreless sixth, the Yankees put in Tyler Clippard to pitch the seventh inning, which seems to be the formula nowadays. He induced a grounder to third from Jonathan Schoop but Headley shanked the throw quite low and the ball went past Bird’s glove. Schoop moved to second and advanced to third on Hardy’s sac bunt.
With a 5-4 lead and a runner on third, New York had the infield in as Clippard faced Seth Smith. However, that didn’t matter as Smith smashed a fastball up over the right field fence to give Baltimore a 6-5 lead. Welp. Clippard is a good pitcher with a flyball tendency and that can happen once in awhile with guys like that.
Once they took the lead, the Orioles had their eighth-and-ninth inning reliever equations working perfectly – Brad Brach struck out the side and Zach Britton did what Zach Britton usually does, which is getting saves with his ridiculous sinker. 6-5, the Orioles won and Yankees lost and that’s all she wrote.
You know how Sanchez wasn’t getting much BABIP love earlier this season? He got some back tonight. As mentioned, Sanchez smacked a huge home run in the fifth inning and later, he also hit a bloop single. A bloop single! That BABIP number is regressing to the norm as we speak.
Meanwhile, Greg Bird continued to struggle. He struck out thrice in four at-bats, dropping his season average to .063. Again, not too worried about him. It’s only been four games into the season. That kind of slump can happen to any good hitters in random four-game stretch during a season.
Brett Gardner swung one hot bat tonight. He had three hits — one of them double — and two stolen bases as well. Matt Holliday went 2-for-2 with a homer and two walks. Ellsbury and Castro — the no. 5 and 6 hitters of lineup — combined for 3-for-8. The offensive stats would’ve seemed much more positive than they do now had the Yankees secured the lead for a win.
Box score, WPA graph and standings
The Yankees are at it again at the Camden Yards tomorrow at 4:30 pm. Tanaka will look for redemption from his poor opening day start while the Orioles will send Kevin Gausman.