Games 160 & 161: NYY vs. BAL — Losing on the edge of a hurricane’s doubleheader

Yesterday’s forecast was dismal — 100% chance of rain until late Friday night. So they postponed last night’s game, turning today into a split-admission doubleheader. And weather continued to affect today’s games. First game: windy and chilly. Second game: just wet and rainy. And with a hurricane just miles off the Atlantic Coast, flooding states just south of Maryland, it wasn’t going to be your average Saturday for baseball.

And it certainly wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night as they continue to chase home-field advantage for the Wild Card game this Tuesday. Game 1 was just dreadful, but Game 2 was just disappointing.

In the first game this afternoon, Ivan Nova got the start. And once again, he continued to struggle finding that previous “SuperNova” momentum — 105 pitches in just 5.2 innings, giving up 8 hits, 5 runs, and 3 walks, and striking out 4 Baltimore batters. It started in the 1st inning. Two consecutive singles put runners on the corners, and the lead runner scored on a ball hit into a double play. In the 3rd, the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch, moved to 3rd on a double, and then scored on a ground out. A 2-out solo home run in the 5th added another run to the Orioles’ increasing lead.

But it would be the 6th inning that solidified the Orioles’ win today. With 2 outs and 2 men on base, Chasen Shreve was called in to finish off the Orioles. Except that Shreve seems to have forgotten what made him so crucial earlier this season. Three consecutive singles score three more runs (two charged to Nova, of course), and a wild pitch capped off the scoring that inning with one more before Shreve finally got that one out the Yankees needed from that inning.

Totally scoreless for so much of the game, the Yankees earned back a few of those runs in the 7th inning. Murphy’s walk and Pirela’s single forced the Orioles’ starter out of the game. Bird loaded the bases with a walk from the new pitcher. And after 1 out, the Yankees were looking for anything to score some runs in this golden opportunity. Brett Gardner ground into a force out, scoring Murphy and leaving runners on the corners. And Rob Refsnyder’s single scored Pirela. But a new pitcher unfortunately then shut the Yankees back down.

The hope didn’t last long. Nick Goody came on in the 7th. He quickly loaded the bases with 2 singles, an out, and a walk. A double added 2 more runs. One more out later, the batter was sent to 1st on a hit by pitch, which also ended up looking like a wild pitch to score the runner from 3rd. But the Yankees smelled something fishy and challenged the call. It was overturned as a swinging strike, and the batter eventually flied out to end the inning. Reliever Chris Martin held the Orioles off in the 8th inning, but the damage was done.

Final score of Game 1: 9-2 Orioles.

In the later game, Luis Severino took the mound for the Yankees and threw a very good, very efficient game. He threw just 91 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits, no walks, and 3 runs, striking out 6 batters. A lead-off solo home run in the 1st started things for the Orioles this evening. Then with 2 outs, a hit by pitch scored on an RBI double. And a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd gave the Orioles their third run of the game.

The Yankees, however, weren’t about to let this game go haywire like they did with the first one. In the 2nd, McCann was hit by a pitch, ended up at 3rd on Bird’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. And then in the 5th, Refsnyder doubled and Gregorius singled to get things started. Slade Heathcott’s double scored Refsnyder. And with 2 outs and the bases loaded with Ellsbury’s hit by a pitch, Carlos Beltran’s walk scored Gregorius before a fly out ended their rally, but left the game all tied up.

And they sat there for a few innings, tied and each team trying to break out with a single swing. Except it didn’t really happen that way. With both starters out of the game, it was onto the bullpen to make the decision. In the 8th inning, Dellin Betances came on in relief for Severino and got into his dramatic tension pattern again, this time to his (and the Yankees’) detriment. A lead-off single stole 2nd on a wild pitch, moved to 3rd on a bunt single, and then scored on another wild pitch. (See, not a swing, but a bumbled throw.) And with that, the Orioles took a late lead and then shut the Yankees down in the top of the 9th.

That would be it for the wet, cold, terrible day in Charm City for the Yankees.

Final score in Game 2: 4-3 Orioles.

One more game in Baltimore. One more game in the regular season. One more win to secure home field advantage.

And then it’s the postseason. And it’s anybody’s ball game. Well, any of 10 teams that make the postseason, that is. And I think we’re all relieved that the Yankees are one of those 10 teams this year. And like I said, it’s still very much anyone’s ball game.

Go Yankees!

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