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Yankees 1, Orioles 4: Chapman’s shaky relief clouds Cole’s final spring outing

Gerrit Cole looked sharp, but AWOL bats and a seventh-inning meltdown by Aroldis Chapman put this one out of reach for the Bombers.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole was on the mound, but not on TV. Oh, the vagaries of the Yankees’ broadcast partners. Thankfully, that was the last time we will be robbed of a chance to watch the team tune up for the regular season, as the remaining spring training games will be televised.

First pitch was slightly overshadowed by the announcement shortly before the game that the Yankees were optioning Deivi García to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, ostensibly signaling that Domingo Germán had won the fifth starter job. This, of course, does not spell the end of García’s chances in the majors this season. After all, it is likely that he will get ample opportunity to impress, as teams are sure to be careful with inning loads ramping up from the shortened season. Back to the matter at hand: this was an uneventful game, but there was still action to recap.

Cole was scheduled to go up to 90 pitches, and boy did he look sharp. The Baltimore batters made him work early with a 17-pitch first, but he settled into a groove, allowing only two hits and no runs across 5.2 innings of work. Cole generated 12 whiffs out of his 86 pitches and struck out five batters. Of mild concern is the fact that he surrendered 10 batted balls classified as hard-hit, but that’s been the book on Cole. The verdict: he looks ready to go as the Opening Day starter.

In Aaron Judge’s first at-bat, he scorched a rocket double down the right field line on a 1-0 middle-middle sinker. He moved to third on a double by Brett Gardner, and might have scored on a Giancarlo Stanton chopper down the left field line but for an impressive glove and throw by Rio Ruiz.

Cole had an inauspicious beginning to the second, as Tyler Wade committed fielding errors on back-to-back plays. To be fair, both balls were sharply struck, but both were plays that an MLB shortstop — especially a defensive specialist like Wade — would be expected to make. However, Cole bailed out his shortstop, inducing a pair of fly outs sandwiched around a Freddy Galvis strikeout.

In the bottom half of the frame, Mike Tauchman ripped a ground-ball screamer off the second baseman’s glove. Unfortunately, the Yankees’ next baserunner wouldn’t come until the fourth, when Gary Sánchez blooped one just beyond the outstretched glove of the retreating second baseman:

Tauchman drew a walk to put runners on first and second, but the threat ended as Wade lined out.

Looking at the box score, you might be inclined to think that this game was a comedy of errors. However, the official scorer seemed to have a personal vendetta against Wade and Yolmer Sánchez, as all four of the errors recorded by the pair could have reasonably been scored as hits.

Darren O’Day came in to get the final out of the sixth and made Maikel Franco look silly on a slider a foot off the plate.

Aroldis Chapman entered for the top of the seventh and promptly gave up a shallow fly ball single to Rio Ruiz. Ramón Urías replaced him as pinch runner, and moved to second on a wild pitch fastball that sailed over Sánchez’s glove. Urías came around to score on an Austin Hays humpback liner to left, finally plating the first run of the game for either team.

Freddy Galvis then doubled down the left-field line to put runners on second and third with no outs. Hays scored on another Chapman wild pitch, this one a fastball that almost hit Chance Sisco, and that put the O’s in front, 2-0.

But wait, there’s more! Chapman completed the trifecta by throwing another wild pitch, this one a slider miles outside of the zone to Yolmer Sánchez, scoring pinch-runner Jordan Westburg from third.

Courtesy of Statcast

After not allowing any hits this spring, Chapman’s command was absent all night, as he constantly overthrew the fastball and missed in the zone with the slider on all three hits. He eventually struck out Sánchez before exiting the game in favor of Nick Goody, who got the final two outs to hold it at 3-0.

The Orioles extended their lead to 4-0 in the top of the ninth. Brooks Kriske allowed a double and walk to Nick Ciuffo and Richie Martin respectively, but looked like he might escape the self-inflicted jam by retiring the next two batters. However, Chris Shaw singled up the middle to score Ciuffo from second.

As with last night, the Bombers attempted to muster a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, with Gardner banging a long double off the centerfield wall. Estevan Florial came on to pinch-run, and advanced to third on a Josh Breaux grounder before coming home on a Rob Brantly nubber to second. Tauchman drew his third walk of the night and was replaced by pinch-runner Thomas Milone, who took second on defensive indifference. The Yankees loaded the bases on back-to-back four-pitch walks by Gray Fenter, but Andrew Velazquez struck out on three pitches to end the game.

The Yankees’ bats waited too long to wake up, as they mustered only five baserunners through the first eight innings. Maybe it’s better off this game wasn’t televised.

Join us tomorrow afternoon as the Blue Jays visit Tampa for the final spring training matchup between the two clubs. Jhoulys Chacín will get the start, as the Yankees don’t want Jameson Taillon facing a rival so close to the beginning of the season; he’ll throw a simulated game instead. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, with YES and WFAN carrying the respective TV and radio broadcasts.

Box Score