The Orioles have not been playing good baseball this season. The Yankees have. Baltimore swiped a series from New York way back in the opening weeks of the season before the bombers found their stride, and the Yankees finally got their chance to repay the favor with a 4-1 win in the opener of a three game series in Camden Yards.
To get there, the Yankees needed a good performance from a struggling starter, Sonny Gray. Gray has been oft criticized for being unable to consistently perform this season, and early on it looked like things could go bad in a hurry. Gray worked a quick two outs in the first inning, thanks in part to a spectacular play by Gleyber Torres to throw out Adam Jones. Gray then faced Manny Machado, who promptly drove a ball out to right-center for a solo home run and a 1-0 Orioles lead.
Despite the home run, Gray got out of the first with just 12 pitches. He got into trouble again in the second inning, giving up a leadoff double to Jonathan Schoop that just barely escaped the glove of Aaron Judge. Schoop would advance to third, but Gray held firm and stranded him with a strikeout to end the frame. Gray locked in after this inning, allowing only two more baserunners in the next four innings and erasing one on a double play.
The Yankees offense never got a huge inning to put Baltimore away, but they managed to chip off runs against Orioles starter Andrew Cashner. Neil Walker led off the third inning with a single off the glove of Chris Davis, and came around two batters later on a single from Torres. The run scored was Torres’ 27th RBI in just 34 games played, continuing to build to his early Rookie of the Year resume. The Yankees loaded the bases in the inning, but a combination of Judge striking out, and Greg Bird and Giancarlo Stanton grounding out ended the threat.
Bird gave the Yankees the lead in the fifth inning, hitting a triple over the head of Jones in center field and scoring Brett Gardner from first. The inning could have been bigger, as Torres led off the fifth with a double to left, but Torres was thrown out trying to extend it to a triple. Torres lost his shoe midway to third, but still got to the bag in a bang-bang play that the Yankees ultimately decided not to challenge.
Didi Gregorius led off the sixth with a single to center, and stole second to get himself in scoring position. The Yankees recorded two consecutive outs that almost killed the opportunity, but Austin Romine delivered a line drive double to right field to get the run in. Judge launched a ball in the seventh deep into the seats in left field to record the fourth and final run of the game, his 16th bomb of the year.
Gray exited after six innings of work, turning the ball over to the bullpen for nine outs. The first two relievers got into jams that threatened to get the Orioles back into the game, beginning with Chad Green in the seventh. Green recorded the first two outs of the inning, but Trey Mancini ripped a double to right and Chance Sisco worked a walk to put runners on first and second. Green recovered after a mound visit, striking out pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez to end the inning.
Dellin Betances took over in the eighth, and had an adventure on the mound. The inning started well with a soft grounder to first, but Betances’ command was clearly off tonight and he wound up walking two straight batters. He got ahead of Mark Trumbo 2-1, but hit him to load the bases. Larry Rothschild came out to calm Dellin down, and Betances responded by getting a strikeout and groundout to avoid any damage. Aroldis Chapman entered the game in the ninth and struck out the side to easily record his 13th save of the year.