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Yankees 4, Orioles 6: The drive for five straight wins stalls

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Yankees drop a long, grinding matchup in their final game against Baltimore this season.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to be greedy about the recent play of the New York Yankees. After wrapping up their fifth straight series win yesterday, the team was lobbying for a four game sweep of the visiting Orioles and came up short on Sunday. The Orioles stayed alive, at least theoretically, in the AL Wild Card hunt, taking the game 6-4.

Sonny Gray had a bad day. It’s just that simple. The right-hander struggled with his command early, throwing a ton of pitches and getting into deep counts. The Orioles managed to score off him in three straight innings, with a run scoring single in the second and double in the third, then capped off by Tim Beckham’s three-run home run in the fourth. All told, Gray went just four innings, giving up five runs on six hits with two walks in his shortest outing of the year.

Bryan Mitchell was brought in to relieve Gray, a decision I didn’t like. A four-run deficit with five innings to play isn’t that much against a terrible Baltimore staff, and I thought Joe Girardi could have made a better call than the lowest-leverage guys. Mitchell came in, gave up two hits and a run in his first inning, and suddenly the Yankees were down five.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll notice I haven’t said much about the offense. The truth is, for the first half of the game, there wasn’t really much to say at all. So here goes: Didi Gregorius continued his incredible weekend, hitting a home run in his third straight game. The long ball tied the game at one in the second. Gary Sanchez also had a walk. That looked like it would be about it offensively.

Matt Holliday changed that in the sixth, with a screaming liner that turned into a double. Sanchez and Starlin Castro scored to cut the lead to three, and it looked like momentum turned in the Yankees favor. Tommy Kahnle and Dellin Betances kept the O’s at bay, while the lineup scratched out another run in the eighth to trim the deficit to two.

Zach Britton was brought in to record a four-out save and got into some trouble in the ninth, giving up a double to Ellsbury before facing Aaron Judge with two out as the tying run. Buck Showalter made the questionable decision to intentionally walk Judge, putting the tying run on base and leaving Sanchez as the team’s last hope. The gamble paid off and Sanchez struck out, sealing the game for Baltimore.

So, three out of four wins against the Orioles, five straight series won, and a pretty good fight in the final game after the beginning looked like a laugher. The Yankees will look to brush off the loss before taking on a possible Wild Card game opponent tomorrow, welcoming the Minnesota Twins to the Bronx for a three-game set. First pitch goes tomorrow at 7:05pm EDT.