BALTIMORE—For a while, it felt like primetime Orioles baseball in the afternoon. A large, lively crowd, and a tight game.
In the end, though, it was a familiar result.
Orioles closer Mychal Givens allowed four straight baserunners after striking out the first two batters of the ninth. The fourth forced in the deciding run in the Orioles’ sixth straight defeat, 6-5, to the New York Yankees on Thursday. They’ve lost 12 straight to New York at Oriole Park.
The Orioles trailed, 5-1, heading into the eighth, but a four-run rally, featuring a three-run home run by Renato Nunez, tied the score at 5.
Givens, who lost for the second time in four games to the Yankees, struck out Brett Gardner and Cameron Maybin to start the ninth. Gleyber Torres, who didn’t start even though he has 10 home runs in nine games against the Orioles this season, worked out a walk after Givens didn’t get a third-strike call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds.
Gary Sanchez, who has nine homers against the Orioles and also didn’t start, looped a pinch-hit single to right on a pitch that was breaking away from him. Givens walked DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, which forced home Torres.
“He got two quick outs,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think the 2-2 pitch to Torres was borderline that he didn’t get, and a flare from Gary. That’s a tough time recovering.”
Givens’ ERA has swollen to 4.91. After four straight saves, he’s picked up two losses. In Monday’s 10-7 loss to New York, Givens allowed five runs in 1 1/3 innings.
“What went wrong?” Givens said. “We got the loss. That’s what went wrong. I didn’t get the job done.”
Zack Britton pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save as the Orioles fell to 15-35, a game behind last year’s Orioles after 50 games.
Nunez, who had been in a 6-for-68 nosedive entering the series, homered three times in the four games, and was 5-for-15 with six RBIs.
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka allowed a run on five hits in six innings. Jonathan Holder gave up a run in the eighth, and Tommy Kahnle surrendered Nunez’s home run before Britton came in for the ninth.
“That’s an excellent, excellent bullpen, and I’m happy with how we came back,” Hyde said. “We’re developing in a lot of ways and we’re giving guys a lot of opportunities. We’re in a mode right now of let’s see what we have and the next thing is developing to win and winning close games.
“If you look at our last six games against the Yankees, which we’ve lost all six, the two in New York they had their setup guy and closer in the game, both games. Three of the four games here, [Aroldis Chapman] pitched two of their wins and Britton today. So of the six games we’re in five of them and we’re a hit or a shutdown inning away from winning some of those games. And we’re just not there yet.”
Bundy’s day: Two starts after questions were raised about a drop in Dylan Bundy’s velocity, he allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Clint Frazier hit a home run in the fifth and Gio Urshela, the last batter to face Bundy, had a two-out single in the sixth.
“I thought Bundy was outstanding,” Hyde said. “Really threw the ball well. That’s back-to-back starts with him having really good stuff. The slider just got too much of the plate on the hit by Urshela, but I just thought he was outstanding.”
Bundy, whose fastball velocity topped out at 92 mph, mixed in many offspeed pitches for the second straight start.
“Pretty good up until the sixth inning,” Bundy said. “Tried to bury a slider, and left it up and Urshela] was able to get two runs in, but felt good, same thing as last outing with all my pitches.”
Searching for solutions: Early in the season, the Orioles used Nate Karns, who is on the 60-day injured list, as an opener.
Despite short starts and ineffectiveness from David Hess and Dan Straily, Hyde is not considering going back to the opener.
“There’s a lot of nights where … we’re short already,” Hyde said. “We don’t have the length in our ‘pen. An ideal situation with that opener [is] if the second guy who comes in is able to give you four or five innings, but then he can’t pitch for three or four days.
“There’s a lot of nights where we’re just trying to get through and we’d probably have to carry an extra guy, more than we already do.”
Hyde has reiterated that the starters will remain in the rotation because there are no in-house alternatives. General manager Mike Elias said on Wednesday that the team wants left-handed starter Keegan Akin, in his first season at Triple-A Norfolk, to have an extended stay there.
“I know our guys are working hard to see what else is out there,” Hyde said. “I think we’re always keeping an eye on what’s going on around the league. We’re excited about a couple of guys down below who we don’t feel are ready.
“We want to make sure that guys when they get here are ready to have success here and not rush guys into a tough situation. We’re going to do the right thing for the player, not just from necessity from the major league club. We’re big-picture minded. We don’t want to rush somebody here. When guys have proven they’re ready to come here, we’re not afraid to make that decision, also.”
Comings and goings: Hyde said that Keon Broxton, acquired from the New York Mets on Wednesday, should join the team in Denver on Friday.
After the game, Joey Rickard, who was on deck to bat for Stevie Wilkerson when Jonathan Villar hit into a game-ending double play, was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Rickard was hitting .203 with two home runs and six RBIs.
Austin Hays was transferred to Double-A Bowie from High-A Frederick as he continues to rehab his sprained left thumb.
Break in the schedule: Of the Orioles’ first 50 games, 38 have come against teams that had records of .500 or better entering Thursday. Their next nine games, three at Colorado and six at home against Detroit and San Francisco, feature opponents with records under .500.
Lively crowd: The 12:35 p.m. start drew 30.624, the third-largest crowd of the season. The four largest crowds have come against the Yankees. More than 9,000 schoolchildren attended the game.