BALTIMORE – Dellin Betances has been here before.
September 5, 2017: Manny Machado hits a walk-off home run on a hanging breaking ball from Betances to beat the Yankees.
July 10, 2018: Jonathan Schoop pokes a single off Betances to push the Orioles to a 6-to-5 walk-off win.
Losing twice in a four-game series to the last-place Orioles is beyond frustrating. Doing it while the Red Sox have lost just once in their last 10 games could be the difference between winning the division and suiting up in the Wild Card game.
Betances did not set himself up for success in the bottom of the ninth inning. With the game tied at 5, his 2-2 pitch hit .187-hitter Caleb Joseph to put the winning run the O’s needed on base. After retiring Tim Beckham, Adam Jones doubled into the gap to give them two runners in scoring position with one out. Machado, who already homered twice in the game, was intentionally walked in order to set up the double play with the slower Mark Trumbo due up. Once Trumbo struck out, that brought up Schoop.
On a 1-1 count, Schoop sent a ground ball toward first base that clanked off the glove of first baseman Greg Bird and into right field. That hit pushed the final run across and was the nail in the coffin for the Yankees. It was the first earned run allowed by Betances since a similarly frustrating loss May 23 against the Texas Rangers.
“It’s a play I want to make. That’s the way I classify it,” Bird said. “A big spot there. That’s a play I want to come up with. He put a decent swing on it. It rode up and I didn’t get [the glove] up in time. That’s it.”
The other five runs the Orioles scored came via the aforementioned Machado homers and a two-run double by Joey Rickard. The first Machado shot came on a get-me-over cutter at 89 mph from Masahiro Tanaka. The second blast, off Chad Green, came in a sequence of six consecutive fastballs to a hitter with a .311 batting average against heaters in 2018. For a team whose reputation is to not throw fastballs, they sure got burned by throwing fastballs in predictable situations.
Bird represented most of the Yankees offense, driving in four via a three-run home run in the fifth and sacrifice fly in the seventh. Neil Walker hit an RBI single in the seventh as well to give the Yankees a two-run lead that they ultimately could not hold. Each time they got a lead, Machado homered in the following half-inning to tie the game.
Didi Gregorius was the only Yankee with multiple hits in the game, as he went 3-for-4 with a double. His single in the fifth inning broke up O’s starter Andrew Cashner‘s perfect game.
Overall, Tanaka was disappointing in his return from the disabled list. He was limited to 80 pitches, and as a result, only made it through 4⅓ innings. In that time, he allowed three earned runs on six hits.
“As far as the fourth inning goes, maybe there was some bad luck there,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “What I’m most disappointed in was the fifth inning, that first pitch to Machado. I can’t do that. I have no excuse for that.”
The Yankees have now lost five out of their nine contests with the Orioles so far in 2018.
Not exactly the most inspiring pitching matchup of all-time. Sonny Gray (5-7, 5.85 ERA), who has a 9.00 ERA in his last five starts, gets another opportunity against Dylan Bundy (6-8, 4.08 ERA).
This will be Gray’s final start of the first half, and if it goes badly, should be his last start in pinstripes. A team with World Series aspirations cannot be held down by a starting pitcher who has given up at least four runs in eight of his starts this season. As good as the Yankees offense is, they can’t be expected to bail Gray out every time he starts.