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Yankees 2, Orioles 4: That was eyewash, ump

Cedric Mullins had himself a night and Matt Harvey turned back the clock, but a denied challenge in the top of the eighth became the main story.

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Cedric Mullins supplied two home runs while Matt Harvey turned the clock back to 2015 as the Baltimore Orioles downed the New York Yankees, 4-2, to open their four-game set on Monday evening.

Mullins, who came into the series slashing .346/.404/.481 (154 OPS+) in 21 games, gave the Orioles an early lead, depositing Deivi García’s second pitch of the season onto Eutaw Street (although it was unclear whether he reached the street on the fly or if it bounced through the stadium gates). Six innings later, with a 3-1 lead and Justin Wilson on the mound, he drilled a 418-foot home run over the center-field wall.

Meanwhile, the Yankees could not get anything going against Harvey, who limited them to one run on three hits, striking out five. After walking Gleyber Torres in the second inning, Harvey mowed down 11 straight Yankee batters, with a walk by Clint Frazier in the sixth inning being the first baserunner to reach in almost four innings — and he was immediately erased due to the Yankees’ second double-play ground ball of the game.

The Yankees were able to make hard contact against Harvey — they had five hits with an exit velocity of more than 100 mph, good for a team-wide .315 xBA — but their only run off the former Mets ace came when Aaron Judge followed up a 115-mph double by Giancarlo Stanton in the sixth with a 111.8 mph double of his own.

García’s first start of the 2021 season can best be described as mixed. After he allowed the leadoff home run to Mullins in the first, the second inning saw Freddy Galvis double to drive in catcher Pedro Severino. In both innings, however, García bounced back to limit the damage, generating two grounders to Torres and striking out Maikel Franco in the first and striking out Ramón Urías in the second to end the threats.

On the whole, García did enough to keep the team in the game, giving up two runs on three hits (one home run), striking out four and working around three walks. His fastball sat in the 92-94 range and peaked at 96, and he wove a healthy amount of breaking balls and off-speed pitches into his repertoire. He probably could have gone longer, having thrown only 65 pitches in four innings, but the Yankees clearly did not want him to face the red-hot Mullins three times (154 OPS+), as they removed him after going through the order exactly twice.

The bullpen picked up right where García left off. Lucas Luetge gave up a leadoff double to Mullins to open the fifth, but managed to strand him there. Darren O’Day, however, began the sixth by hitting Austin Hays with a pitch, who reached third on a ground ball that snuck past Rougned Odor because he was covering the second base bag on a hit-and-run, and finally scored on a balk.

Is that technically a balk? Yes. Is it in the spirit of what a balk is supposed to be? Debatable.

Besides the home run to Mullins, Wilson was not effective but not dominant, while Chad Green finished the eighth inning with three quick outs.

Of course, nobody is going to remember any of that, as all eyes will be on the events that transpired in the top half of the eighth. With the bases loaded — all on walks by Tanner Scott — and two out, Gio Urshela lined a single to left field that should have scored two runs. Judge, however, got thrown out at third to end the inning trying to take an extra base, the umpires ruled that DJ LeMahieu had not scored, refused to allow Aaron Boone to challenge the play, and ejected the Yankees manager when he argued.

It appeared that the LeMahieu should have scored, based on the camera angles that the broadcast had, though afterward, Boone said that the call probably would have stood. Considering how reluctant the replay system has been to overturn calls, he’s probably right. Either way, however, there’s no reason that the Yankees should have been prevented from at least challenging the play.

Harvey (2-1) gets the win, while García gets tagged with the loss. With that frustrating result, the Yankees drop to 9-13, and are now 4.5 games out of first in the AL East.

Tomorrow’s a new day, however, as Corey Kluber will match up against Bruce Zimmermann in the second game of this four-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.

Box Score.