Game 23: BAL vs. NYY — A wild ride in the Bronx

Four hours and 37 minutes of baseball. Fortunately, it was nice weather in the City today. And it just had to be a weird day of baseball for the final game of the weekend series against the Orioles. The O’s were looking for a win to get back to the top of the AL East (a tie with the Yankees actually), and the Yankees were looking for a sweep of the weekend.

And boy, did each team work hard to obtain their goal. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out in the Yankees favor at the end of the 4 1/2 hours of play. Though both teams certainly had plenty of opportunities to do more than either of them actually did.

Jordan Montgomery got the start this afternoon, and had a fairly decent outing overall. He threw 92 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, while striking out an impressive 7 Baltimore batters. In the 3rd, a 1-out single stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch strikeout, and then scored on a 2-out single. Then after loading the bases, a well-placed strikeout got Montgomery out of the inning.

In the 6th, Montgomery gave up consecutive walks and his afternoon was over, still responsible for those 2 runners. It would be Jonathan Holder that would be first out of the bullpen. Holder promptly gave up a single to load the bases. A force out at 2nd still scored a run, a double scored another, and a groundout scored one more for the Orioles. Holder’s struggle with this inning would come back to haunt the Yankees.

As Clippard, Betances, and Mitchell kept the O’s from adding onto their lead through the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, respectively, the Yankees were slow to make any offensive impact that mattered. I mean, they certainly got on base off the Baltimore starter — 8 hits and 5 walks in just 5 innings (ramping up the pitch count to 114 in just 5 innings). But they only managed to cross the plate twice under him.

A 2-out solo home run by Matt Holliday in the 1st got the Yankees on the board early. And in the 3rd, with 1 out and 2 runners on base with walks, Chase Headley’s single scored Castro to double the Yankees’ score. Again, the Yankees got plenty of base runners and opportunities, putting runners in scoring position quite often, but they just couldn’t capitalize on much of anything.

Until the 9th inning, that is. With 2 outs and 2 runners on base in scoring position (thanks in part to a questionable and strange balk call), the entire stadium was on its feet cheering on their boys, fingers crossed for something, anything really. Then Headley worked a walk to load the bases, which ended that pitcher’s day. A new reliever faced Didi Gregorius who hit a solid single to score both Castro and Judge to tie up the game.

And it was on into extra innings. Chapman worked his way through the 10th, with 2 nasty strikeouts and (more importantly) no runs allowed. Meanwhile, the 9th inning pitcher (Bryan Mitchell) played 1st base (despite having literally no experience there even in high school, where he played right field when he wasn’t pitching). But Mitchell did really good there, even making a fairly difficult catch in foul territory.

Then he was back on the mound for the 11th inning, and maybe the fielding break messed up his concentration because unlike his 9th inning, this one wasn’t so clean. Though to be fair, it really wasn’t all his fault. That was thanks to some pretty sloppy fielding. With 2 outs and a runner on 2nd (after a single and stolen base), Mitchell intentionally walked the next batter to go after the next guy. It didn’t help. That guy hit a single to score the winning run. The next guy’s single added completely unnecessary insurance runs #1 & #2.

And the Yankees’ offense just couldn’t cobble together anything, let alone a base runner to rally back for the 11th, despite the recurring theme of the game of actually getting into scoring position when it mattered (and then failing to do something about it).

Final score: 7-4 Orioles in 11, Yankees win series 2-1.

Again, this weekend has had its moments of great offense, but really, the numbers tell me a different story. Yes, there was lots of hits and runs scored, but that was partially due to some sloppy pitching. I mean, today alone there was 24 total hits and 14 total walks, and to contrast that, the pitchers worked up 26 total strikeouts.

Okay, it was a whole lot of fun watching Bryan Mitchell play 1st base. He certainly seemed to have fun doing so, despite probably being ridiculously nervous to do so. Maybe this will make him a better fielder. He was snapping into action to help with fielding a whole lot more in the 11th than he normally does, so maybe it would a good idea to make pitchers play some fielding to get them involved in more of the game. Just a random thought…

And I have news about recently DFA’d Pete Kozma. Kozma was claimed off waivers today by the Texas Rangers, so Kozma is now an ex-Yankee. But as they say, once a Yankee, always a Yankee. Best of luck to him, however!

Next up: May baseball, starting with the Blue Jays on their way down to the Bronx for a midweek series. The battle for the AL East continues this week.

Go Yankees!

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