To whoever stole the Yankees bats: it would sure be swell if you returned them. The Yankees’ offense continued its listless run of form, quietly falling to the Orioles 5-1 Sunday afternoon. The Yanks dropped three of four in Camden Yards, a ballpark that typically serves as a tonic for New York hitters, mustering just five runs in those three losses.
Rookie right-hander Dean Kremer, making his major league debut for the Orioles, stymied Yankees batters over six innings, yielding just one run on a lone base hit while striking out seven.
His opposite number, Yankees veteran Masahiro Tanaka, got off to a rocky start, surrendering a two-run homer to DJ Stewart in the first inning, but he settled down and turned in a largely solid performance. Tanaka lasted 5.1 innings, striking out five and walking just one. Two runners he left on base for reliever Luis Cessa in the sixth inning later crossed the plate as unearned runs.
If there was a bright spot offensively, it was Miguel Andújar, who had three of the team’s four hits, including a one-out ninth inning triple. In a symbol of the futility that has plagued the Yankees recently, the game ended with him stranded at third.
The Yankees scored their only run in the second inning. With the bases loaded and one out, catcher Erik Kratz —in the lineup for a struggling and benched Gary Sánchez — tapped a grounder down the third base line that the Orioles couldn’t turn two on, allowing Frazier to score. Tyler Wade, starting because the team wanted to rest Gleyber Torres as he makes his return from a hamstring injury, struck out looking to end the threat. It was the kind of situation that the Yankees typically feast on, but injuries have sapped the club’s depth and left numerous soft spots in the lineup.
The only other semi-serious threat the Yankees mounted came in the seventh. Down 4-1, the team put runners on first and second with one out, but had to rely on the bottom of the lineup once again. Aaron Boone could have pinch-hit Sánchez for Kratz, but tellingly kept him on the bench; Kratz was retired on a fly ball to center. Boone did go to the bench for Wade, sending up Torres as a pinch-hitter, but after working the count to 3-1, he grounded out on what might have been ball four.
The Yankees are mired in one of their worst stretches in recent years. After starting the season 16-6 and looking a safe bet to cruise to a division crown, the team is 5-13 and sits just two games ahead of the fourth-place Orioles, who have been buoyed by the performances of recently called-up prospects.
New YOrk entered the day tied with the Blue Jays for second in the division, 5.5 games behind the Rays. They begin a critical series against the Jays Monday in Buffalo (the Blue Jays’ makeshift home this year) and will play them a total of 10 times before season’s end.
So, again, to whoever has the Yankee bats, just name your ransom. They’ll pay.