The Yankees entered their game against the Orioles on Sunday with Adam Warren on the mound hoping that he could come up with another good start and help them avoid a sweep and a four-game losing streak. The 27-year-old righty did not have his sharpest game, but his most important teammates helped pick up the slack: his catcher and his relievers.
To counter Warren, the Orioles recalled rookie righty Mike Wright from Triple-A Norfolk to make just his fifth major league start. He ran into trouble from the get-go when Brett Gardner beat out an infield single to lead off the game and Mark Teixeira went the opposite way on an RBI double to the left field corner, giving the Yankees an early 1-0 edge. Warren gave the lead right back in the home half of the first when Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and the resurgent Nolan Reimold all singled to make it a 2-1 ballgame. Ever the gentleman, Wright insisted on immediately forgoing the lead as the Yankees scratched out a second inning rally with some infield singles and a Gardner sacrifice fly to tie it at two runs apiece.
The next few innings were quiet, though it was quite obvious that Warren and Wright were wilting under the hot and muggy Baltimore weather. It was one of those long afternoons in the Charm City, as the starters constantly seemed to be reaching 3-2 counts while rarely posting effortless innings. For a moment, it seemed like Warren would be the one who unraveled first. He walked Reimold to begin the bottom of the fourth and then issued a one-out single to J.J. Hardy. Warren managed to strike out Ryan Flaherty, but light-hitting catcher Caleb Joseph mashed a double to right-center field, scoring Reimold to put the O's on top 3-2 with Machado due up next with two men in scoring position. To Warren's credit, he escaped disaster by inducing a pop-up to Teixeira, limiting the damage.
Once again, Wright failed to reward his lineup for giving him a lead. He completely unraveled in the top of the fifth, walking Chase Headley, Alex Rodriguez, and Teixeira consecutively to load the bases with no one out. Buck Showalter called on lefty Brian Matusz to make his first relief apperances since his eight-game suspension with three straight lefties due up in the Yankees lineup. Matusz did walk Garrett Jones to tie it again, but he forced whiffs from both Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius. Although the next hitter wasn't a lefty, backup catcher John Ryan Murphy had struggled pretty much all season, entering the matinee with a mere .208/.259/.313 triple slash and a 53 wRC+. Nonetheless, Murphy struck oil:
The two-run double saved the Yankees from blowing a terrific opportunity, and it gave them a much-appreciated 5-3 lead. Mason Williams followed the double with a pop-up, but the damage was done.
Warren had mixed results in the bottom of the fifth, alternating between allowing baserunners and getting outs for four batters until lefty Travis Snider was due up with the tying run on base and Warren up to 92 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings. Joe Girardi correctly decided that trying to get Warren the win wasn't worth the risk, and he turned to Chasen Shreve, arguably his second-best reliever out of the 'pen with Andrew Miller on the DL. Shreve produced another fine relief effort, getting Snider to fly out to left and pitching a perfect sixth. Another lefty, Justin Wilson, was next in line after Shreve began the seventh with a walk to Machado. The result: Six up, six down, three strikeouts, and probably Wilson's best performance as a Yankee.
Wilson's two innings helped preserve Dellin Betances for the next several days of consecutive games, too. There was some thought that Betances might need to go more than one inning for the save, but Wilson's perfect eighth erased such concerns. So Girardi was thus able to just turn to Betances in the ninth to seal the deal. He got two quick grounders before a brief bit of wildness put Machado on first with a walk and the Camden Yards crowd into a frenzy with the always-dangerous Matt Wieters pinch-hitting for Delmon Young. Unperturbed, Dellin fired bullets past Wieters and struck him out to end the 5-3 victory and record his fourth career save.
The Yankees will now play a funky four-game series against the Marlins with the first two in Miami on Monday and Tuesday and the last two back in the Bronx for Wednesday and Thursday. There's over 1,000 miles between Tuesday and Wednesday's games, but whatever. Manfred's will be done, I guess. Masahiro Tanaka will get the start tomorrow night at Marlins Park at 7:05pm with Tom Koehler slated to pitch for GM-turned-skipper Dan Jennings. What a world.