Two double plays. Twelve strikeouts. A 2-for-11 mark with runners in scoring position. A .165 team xBA on the night against the Orioles’ vaunted pitching staff. This was not at all a recipe for resounding offensive success, and the Yankees failed to score more than a single run in 11 innings. The walk-off walk from the arm of Aroldis Chapman was just the turd cherry on top.
But hey, at least Cameron Maybin made his debut in the booth tonight! The new addition to the YES Network called his first Yankees game and got into a groove early, working well with Michael Kay. Unfortunately, the New York lineup was not nearly so successful. Their utter fecklessness cost the Yankees dearly, continuing a disturbing trend of mediocrity against the Orioles that dates back to last season.
The top of the first inning started well, as HBP magnet Anthony Rizzo got plunked to put a man on with no one out. Giancarlo Stanton, batting second with Aaron Judge on a night off, followed by driving a ground ball up the middle to put men on first and second. In early-season 2022 Yankees fashion, though, the club failed to bring any runs in, extending their run of futility with RISP to 9-for-53 to start the campaign.
Both the #Yankees and #Orioles have struggled with runners in scoring position so far this season:— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 15, 2022
BAL ranks 30th, going 5-for-55 (.091 AVG) with RISP.
The Yankees are 9-for-50 (.180) with RISP, which ranks 6th lowest in MLB.
Luckily(?), Jordan Montgomery is used to pitching to no run support and was utterly nonplussed by the bats’ incompetence in the top half of the inning. The southpaw took the ball in the bottom half and threw a stress-free clean inning, sending the bats back out to try and find some success.
In the bottom of the second, it was nice to have Kay and Maybin have a conversation about Larry Doby, the man who broke the color barrier in the American League a few months after Jackie did so in the Senior Circuit. Doby’s historically been a bit of a forgotten man because of Robinson’s gigantic shadow.
Back on the field, in the second inning, the Orioles managed to get themselves in the same situation the Yankees had in the first inning, men on second and third with two out. Luckily for the Yankees, some sharp defense from DJ LeMahieu at third base and Rizzo at first managed to get Monty out of the second with no runs crossing the plate.
In the top of the third, the Yankees managed to scrape a run across. Kyle Higashioka, who’d thus far turned into a pumpkin in 2022, led off with a double down the left-field line. Rizzo somewhat did his job and moved Higgy to third with a groundout to the right side (9-for-54 with RISP now, by the way). And then finally, blessedly, Stanton hit one of his patented rockets — 69.9-mph off the bat into right center field:
The Yankees took their first lead of the night at 1-0. Nice — now, 10-for-55 with RISP on the season! It wouldn’t get better.
With two outs and Stanton still at first, Joey Gallo, who’s been stinging baseballs to no effect, pulled off a ball yet managed to ground it against the shift. The base hit put runners at first and second. Alas, LeMahieu flew out harmlessly to left center (10-for-56).
Monty went out, did his part, and tossed the valued shutdown inning. Despite a leadoff walk (gross) and a bunt that advanced the runner to second, Montgomery managed to keep the Orioles out of the run column, in part thanks to another web gem from David John at third base. The Orioles, who came into tonight even worse with RISP than the Yankees, were so far holding to form.
From there, the game stayed quiet until the bottom of the fifth, when after surrendering a single, Monty decided to walk the Orioles’ No. 9 hitter for the second time on the night (not infuriating at all, honestly, seriously). With one out, that expedited Clarke Schmidt’s warmups in the Yankees bullpen. After pitching coach Matt Blake went to the mound and presumably told Monty to sort himself out, he responded by striking out Cedric Mullins and getting a harmless groundout to send the game to the sixth inning.
It looked for a brief moment like Monty’s escape woke the Yankees bats. Josh Donaldson led off the sixth with a single to the left side that trickled into the outfield. After a Gallo strikeout, LeMahieu slashed a DJ-esque groundball through the right side of the infield. Gleyber Torres followed with a four-pitch walk to load the bases. That ended Jordan Lyles’ infuriating night and the Orioles went to the ‘pen.
Former Yankee farmhand Dillon Tate entered the game to try and escape the jam facing Aaron Hicks. The switch-hitter, who’s always possessed a keen eye, proceeded to work himself into a 3-0 count. And then promptly banged into an easy double play. Womp womp; 10-for-57 with RISP and the 2022 Yankees’ offense giving off serious 2021 vibes.
For the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees went to Wandy Peralta, ending Monty’s stellar night after five shutout innings. Peralta rewarded Aaron Boone’s faith and retired the Orioles in order, giving the Yankees’ putrid offense another chance to pad their tenuous lead.
Austin Hays greeted Peralta with a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh and just like that, the tying run was in scoring position despite a masterfully pitched game to that point. One passed ball later by Higashioka and that was a runner on third and no one out. From there, former Yankee farmhand Jorge Mateo singled to tie the game at one, though he got himself thrown out at second base by Gallo.
Walks to Robinson Chirinos, and Rougned Odor of all people led Boone to go back to the ‘pen. The skipper summoned Jonathan Loáisiga who, after falling Cedric Mullins, K’d him on a 99-mph heater for the second out and froze Ramón Urías to record the third out of the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Lucas Luetge came in for the Yankees. Chirinos, leading off for the Orioles, hit against the shift for a leadoff single. Ryan McKenna then pinch-ran and Kelvin Gutiérrez pinch-hit for former Yankee Odor. Gutiérrez struck out looking though and Mullins (in the midst of a nightmare game of his own at 0-for-5) popped out to Torres at second base. Urias then grounded out to Kiner-Falefa at short and this one was off to extras.
The top of the 10th began with Hicks on second base and Aaron Judge pinch-hitting for IKF. Surprisingly, the Orioles elected to pitch to the Yankee slugger. Unsurprisingly, given the flow of the game, Judge neither brought Hicks in nor moved him to third; 10-for-58 with RISP.
Marwin Gonzalez then pinch-hit for Higgy and after getting ahead in the count 3-0, struck out looking (10-for-59). And then, probably because he likes round numbers, Rizzo struck out swinging to make it 1-for-10 with RISP on the night, but also 10-for-60 on the season. Three up, three down. Hicks never moved off second.
The bottom of the 10th began with Urías at second base and Ryan Mountcastle at the dish, facing Yankee hurler Schmidt, who induced two quick ground balls to Gonzalez at shortstop, replacing IKF. From there, an intentional walk to Anthony Santander sent Hays to the dish with two out. One more groundout later, and it was off to the eleventh.
In the top of the 11th, Giancarlo came up with Rizzo as the Manfred Man. Rizzo, trying to advance to third on a ground ball hit in front of him, managed to, I kid you not, get hit by the ball for the first out of the inning. A hit with a runner in scoring position, technically! So count it as 11-for-61 on the season and Stanton stood at first with one out. Awful trade.
Donaldson impotently flailed to go down on strikes and Joey Gallo weakly* grounded out to the catcher to strand Stanton at first.
*Seriously, Baseball Savant had the ball traveling three feet and that looks like a generous estimate.
And I thought the top of the inning was weird. Schmidt managed to get one out but ultimately loaded the bases, which prompted Boone to signal to the bullpen for... Aroldis Chapman. For those keeping score, the last time we saw Chapman was Thursday, when he almost literally could not throw a strike and had to be bailed out by Michael King. Bold strategy, skipper. Bold strategy. The maligned Yankees closer promptly whiffed Mullins but ultimately walked Urias to end the game.
That game was an early contender for ugliest, worst, most uninspired loss of 2022, and honestly, I hope there are none worse. It was a brutal, awful way for the Yankees to begin the road trip and it’s more of the same from a team that struggled to beat the Orioles last season. Come back tomorrow for game two of the series. 7:05pm first pitch, with Jameson Taillon on the mound for the Yankees. Will the offense remember to show up against Tyler Wells? Your guess is as good as mine.