Outside of their opening week matchup, the Yankees have handled the Orioles on every occasion. Since losing that series, New York has rattled off 16-straight victories against Baltimore, including today’s 6-5 win to conclude the season series.
J.A. Happ took the mound looking to secure one last sweep against Baltimore, and he didn’t get off to a great start. Happ got Hanser Alberto to pop out to start the game, but proceeded to walk Trey Mancini. He then allowed two consecutive singles with two outs that brought Mancini home. Pedro Severino worked a four-pitch walk to load the bases, but Jace Peterson struck out to end the threat.
It wasn’t a strong outing for Happ, who managed to go only five innings, but he didn’t allow the Orioles many opportunities after the first. Baltimore managed a two-out rally in the third that was capped off by a Severino single to score one run, but otherwise couldn’t create any other chances against Happ. The bats didn’t touch him often; he just couldn’t throw efficiently enough to last longer.
Fortunately, the Yankee offense picked him up immediately. Brett Gardner worked a walk to start the bottom of the first. Aaron Judge then grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Gio Urshela lined a single to center to advance the runner into scoring position. Didi Gregorius slapped a single to right that allowed Judge to score, and then Gary Sanchez crushed a home run to center to make it 4-1.
The Yankees added some much-needed insurance runs to their lead in the sixth inning. Sanchez started the rally with a two-out single, and Gleyber Torres drove a ball into left for a double. That drove Orioles starter Dylan Bundy out of the game, but his replacement Richard Bleier couldn’t contain the situation. Instead Bleier walked Mike Tauchman, and offered a hanging sinker to Mike Ford that got ripped to left field for a two-run single.
The Orioles weren’t out of the game just yet, however. Luis Cessa, who came on in relief of Happ in the sixth inning, opened the seventh with a fly out before serving up a double to Alberto and walking Mancini. Anthony Santander lined out to get Cessa within an out of escaping the jam, but Renato Nunez doubled to left to score both runners. Adam Ottavino was summoned to hold onto the lead, but gave up a double to Jonathan Villar that made it 6-5 before finally ending the inning.
From there the Yankees’ bullpen arms managed to hold the Orioles down. Zack Britton entered for the eighth inning and allowed a leadoff walk before retiring the next three batters, and Aroldis Chapman struck out two to end the game in the ninth. Chapman picked up his 33rd save, tying him with the Padres’ Kirby Yates for the MLB lead.
Torres contributed to the win with his double and run-scored, but did not manage to hit a home run. Torres was a homer shy of tying Lou Gehrig’s record for home runs hit in a single season against one opponent at 14, but the Yankees won’t have another opportunity to play Baltimore in 2019.
The Yankees’ four-game sweep of Baltimore sets them up for the second half of their homestand, a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians. That series starts tomorrow, and we’ll have more information for you then.