What began as a raise of the eyebrows and turned into sarcastic cheers developed into full-throated screams at Camden Yards when the ball off Orioles right fielder Ryan McKenna’s bat dropped into left field for a run-scoring double with two outs in the ninth inning.
Before that knock, the outcome of Tuesday night’s game against the New York Yankees had practically seemed a foregone conclusion, with closer Aroldis Chapman on the mound against the bottom of the Baltimore batting order — which included pinch hitters Chris Owings and Robinson Chirinos, both sporting low .100 averages.
The singles from Tyler Nevin and Chirinos turned the fans in orange — an outnumbered crew — into hesitant believers. The one-run McKenna double amped them more, cutting the deficit to one.
But as all things eventually do, the rally came to an end, with Chapman forcing a popup from Cedric Mullins to seal the 5-4 defeat and extend the Orioles’ losing streak to five games. For just a moment, though, that life had been a bright spot in what has been a meager run of form.
There was more offensive production from Baltimore (14-23) on Tuesday than any of the other losses in this short slide. But it wasn’t enough against a stacked New York lineup that jumped on right-hander Spenser Watkins early and added on against the bullpen.
Watkins found himself in trouble immediately, getting head of DJ LeMahieu and then promptly plunking the Yankees’ third baseman. That set up a funky play off Elrod’s Corner in left-center field, when the laser off Aaron Judge’s bat first stayed in the yard and then ricocheted off both walls and rolled back toward the infield.
Hays chased that ball down and nabbed Judge at third, but the first run was across. And more could’ve scored, with Watkins walking the next two before escaping the jam. But Judge later found a way out of the yard off Watkins, and then did so again off right-hander Joey Krehbiel, who relieved Watkins after four innings.
For a time, an offense that had produced four runs combined during their last four losses awoke, tagging right-hander Jameson Taillon with three runs on six hits in five innings. Ramón Urías began the short-lived surge, homering to left-center, before Urías scored Trey Mancini off an error in the fourth. Tyler Nevin’s sacrifice fly later in the frame momentarily gave Baltimore a lead.
But the second of Judge’s two homers changed that, and it turned New York’s way with a run off right-hander Dillon Tate in the sixth prior to Urías’ error in the seventh, which plated another. That wound up looming large, especially when McKenna scratched across one run in the ninth. But the rally against Chapman fell short, quieting the cries that had built just moments earlier.
The welcome right-hander Logan Gillaspie received when he took the mound for his major league debut in the eighth inning wasn’t the most welcome one. In stepped LeMahieu and Judge to face him, and with two outs, both recorded singles.
But the momentary gasps when Anthony Rizzo first swung were alleviated when McKenna tracked the high-flying ball down at the edge of the right field warning track, ending Gillaspie’s first inning as an Oriole.
The path here has been interesting. In 2017, playing for the Monterey Amberjacks in the Independent League, he featured as a pitcher, first baseman, catcher and shortstop. By 2018, he had solidified himself as a pitcher, but he still bounced around, from the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization to all levels of Baltimore’s system.
And after all that time, he was at Camden Yards, on the receiving end of call-up to give the Orioles length out of the bullpen during a crowded stretch of games. The 25-year-old struck out Kyle Higashioka and worked around those two hits in the eighth. Then he returned for the ninth, throwing another scoreless frame despite allowing a two-out double to Gleyber Torres.
Trey turning up
Earlier in the season, the hard-hit balls off Mancini’s bat left him with his head looking skyward on the way to the dugout. There was an element of ill fortune to it, those would-be knocks finding gloves.
But when the calendar turned to May, those balls began finding grass. Monday marked the end of Mancini’s 12-game hitting streak, but with a walk, he continued his one-base stretch. And with a single and double Tuesday, that streak reached 14 games, raising his batting average to .289.
This story will be updated.
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