A week into the season, the Orioles have let several scoring chances go to waste. They didn’t allow themselves to do the same with a nearly perfect night from their bullpen.
Three walks from the New York Yankees’ bullpen in the 11th inning covered up Baltimore’s weeklong struggles with runners in scoring position, with Ramón Urías’ bases-loaded walk against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman bringing an end to a game in which the Orioles went 1-for-15 with a runner on either second or third. Urías’ patience held up a dominant performance from five Orioles relievers, with Dillon Tate, Jorge López, Bryan Baker, Cionel Pérez and Joey Krehbiel recording 17 straight outs behind starter Jordan Lyles. Of the relievers, all but Tate are former waiver claims.
“We haven’t pitched like that a ton these past few years, and to watch our bullpen guys come in and put up zeroes the way they have, the way they’ve been doing so far this year, it’s a lot of fun,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “And when we start swinging the bat, it’s going to be more fun.”
The only blemish on the bullpen’s collective line came in Krehbiel’s 11th, when Giancarlo Stanton’s grounder hit automatic runner Anthony Rizzo between second and third. Rizzo jogged straight through third base to the dugout, while Stanton was credited with his second hit of the night with a runner in scoring position.
The first, a broken-bat blooper off Lyles in the third, seemed as if it might provide all of the night’s offense. The Orioles (2-5) went hitless in two at-bats with scoring chances in the second, third and fifth innings, completing the sixth with 12 runs scored in 60 offensive innings.
Austin Hays led off the seventh with a double, taking third on a passed ball before Jorge Mateo dropped a single into left, though he was thrown out at second trying to become a runner in scoring position himself. A pair of walks followed, but Cedric Mullins and Urías both struck out to end the threat.
Against former Orioles reliever Miguel Castro, the Orioles worked another two walks in the eighth, but Castro struck out Mateo to strand them as well. Another five hitless at-bats followed before Urías saw four straight balls from Chapman after falling behind 0-2, leaving Baltimore 6-for-70 (.086) with 34 strikeouts in those situations this season.
Still, the Orioles managed the victory without a big hit thanks to their 10 walks, reaching double-digits in that category for the first time in nearly a decade. With 34 walks, they now rank second in the American League.
“I think you see a bunch of guys pressing,” Hyde said. “But we’re being competitive and we’re not giving away at-bats. I just think we’re trying to do a little bit too much at times.
“I think our at-bats are improving; they’re going to continue to improve. That was evident by the walks tonight. We’re just not getting the hits yet.”
Length from Lyles
In the wake of John Means’ left elbow strain that could see the Orioles’ top starter spend significant time on the injured list, Lyles shoulders all of the veteran status in Baltimore’s rotation.
“Jordan’s been in the big leagues for 10 years, and so I give him a little more rope on how he’s feeling,” Hyde said before the game. “I’m not going to even discuss I need him to go further because Meansy’s going to be out for a while. That’s not going to come up.”
Lyles clearly didn’t need to be told that he’ll be relied on heavily going forward. The only Orioles starter to complete five innings thus far, Lyles worked into the sixth Friday, limiting the Yankees (4-4) to one run. He held New York to one hit in six at-bats with a runner in scoring position, the exception being Stanton’s blooper.
Lyles, who pitched 180 innings for the Texas Rangers last season before signing with Baltimore, said he hopes to consistently pitch deeper into games going forward.
“I’m not thrilled about the five-plus innings for me tonight,” he said. “But coming into this season, I want to get deep into games. I want to save some arms out there. I think that matters over a course of the season. Hopefully, we can get that pitch count over 100 going forward. I told Hyde, ‘Give me a little bit more leeway. Let me go a little bit deeper.’”
The final four of Lyles’ 91 pitches were balls to Gleyber Torres, loading the bases with one out in the sixth. But Tate, a former Yankees farmhand acquired in July 2018 for closer Zack Britton, got Aaron Hicks to ground into a double play and salvage Lyles’ line. It marked only the fifth time during Hyde’s four-season managerial tenure that an Orioles starter pitched more than five innings against the Yankees without allowing a home run. None of the previous four were outings by Means.
Tate then worked a perfect seventh, with López duplicating that in the eighth. Baker, making his fifth major league appearance, struck out DJ LeMahieu and Torres in a clean ninth to start a crisp 1 2/3 innings appearance before Pérez finished the 10th striking out Rizzo.
“Man, it’s what you dream about your whole life, honestly, especially in a big game like that, a win that we needed to have,” Baker said. “That’s the type of stuff, especially as a relief pitcher coming in and just trying to put up a zero for your team and give them a chance to win, it’s what it’s all about.”
Krehbiel’s scoreless 11th earned him his first major league win. The Orioles have yet to allow a home run at home, their first four-game homerless stretch at Camden Yards since 2016.
Around the horn
>> All uniformed members of both teams wore a blue No. 42 on Friday in honor of the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. “It means everything,” said Mullins, one of two African-American players on the Orioles’ active roster along with Tate. “We’re talking about someone who sacrificed a lot to create opportunities that he might not have even thought were possible back in his day. To be able to wear his number out there on the field in honor of him is awesome.”
>>José Hernández and Fredi González again coached first and third base, respectively, because base coaches Anthony Sanders and Tony Mansolino remained out with an illness that the Orioles, citing team policy, refuse to specify. As a result, the Orioles have temporarily added three player development staffers to their major league staff: Florida Complex League manager Christian Frias, coordinator of instruction Jeff Kunkel and manager of pitching strategy Ryan Klimek.
>> Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected after the game by home-plate umpire Tom Hallion for arguing balls and strikes.
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