BALTIMORE—For a few minutes, it looked as if the Orioles were going to break their long, painful losing streak against the New York Yankees.
Instead, the lead they snatched was quickly taken away, and they suffered their 18th straight defeat to New York, a team record. The night before they had tied the 1954 mark when they lost 17 in a row to Cleveland.
Pedro Severino gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead on a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth,. But in the top of the ninth, Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer against Cole Sulser, sending the Orioles to an 8-6 loss.
The Yankees not only have won 18 in a row against the Orioles, but have won 17 straight in Baltimore as they swept this hastily arranged two-game series. The Orioles had been scheduled to open their home season against the Miami Marlins, but the Yankees came to town when the Marlins’ season was put on hold because of an outbreak of Covid-19.
After spotting the Yankees a five-run lead in the first, the Orioles scored two in the bottom of the first on a two-run home run by Hanser Alberto. Rio Ruiz hit a two-run home run in the second, his third hit and third home run of the season.
Neither team scored again until the bottom of the eighth. The Yankees’ Jonathan Loaisaga pitched two scoreless innings after play was stopped after 5 ½ innings because of rain.
The Orioles’ Renato Nuñez struck out to lead off the eighth. Anthony Santander was hit by a pitch, and Severino drove a home run just inside the left-field foul pole, his first of the season, to give the Orioles a 6-5 lead.
Sulser, who picked up his first career save in Boston on Sunday, walked Gio Urshela to begin the ninth. He retired Mike Tauchman on a fly ball to left. DJ LeMahieu singled, and Judge hit his second home run in as many nights, and the Orioles’ lead was gone.
“The leadoff walk hurt him,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of Sulser. “He got squeezed on a call against Judge that really changed the at-bat. That hurt him, but I like his stuff. I have confidence in him. Like a lot of these guys, we’re going to continue to find out. Tonight just wasn’t his night.”
Zack Britton made quick work of his former team in the ninth for his second save. Home plate umpire Chris Segal called centerfielder Austin Hays out on strikes to end the game. Hyde screamed at Segal as the walked off the field.
The Orioles, who last defeated the Yankees on March 31, 2019, have lost 17 straight at home to them. Their last home win came on July 10, 2018.
The Orioles not only have lost 18 straight to a team for the first time, but the Yankees have homered against them in 21. According to ESPN, that’s also a team record.
Means’ short night: John Means was supposed to be the Opening Day starter for the Orioles. Arm fatigue prevented that, and he pitched for the first time in 2020 six days later.
Means had an awful first inning.
Before the game, Hyde said he hoped to get three or four innings from Means. Hyde removed him after 2 1/3 innings and 51 pitches.
Means, who hit five batters in his strong rookie season in 2019, tagged two of the first three Yankees, Judge and Gleyber Torres.
Torres, who was hit in the right elbow, stayed in the game but left in the third inning.
Giancarlo Stanton’s RBI single scored Judge, and Luke Voit hit a grand-slam. After six batters, Means trailed, 5-0.
“He felt great, probably felt a little too good,” Hyde said. “He was throwing 95, 96. I just think he was anxious to get out there and didn’t have really good command in the first inning, and then had a good inning-plus after that. He had a had tough time settling down.”
Means retired his last six hitters until Hyde removed him with one out in the third, the shortest start of his career.
“Physically, I felt great. I thought my stuff was better than it ever has been,” Means said.
He wasn’t surprised by his fastball’s velocity.
“It probably was a little bit of a tick up today but, honestly, that’s where my pitches have been. Even at Bowie the other day, I was 92-96 (mph). It’s just a little adjustment I made that I like a lot and hopefully next time we get some results with it.”
Ruiz’s home run: Ruiz’s homer was his third of the season, and his third hit. According to STATS, he’s the fourth Oriole in team history who homered for his first three hits. Mike Deveraux (1994), Boog Powell (1963) and pitcher Milt Pappas (1962) were the others.
Pappas hit home runs for his first four hits of that season, and his record is safe since Ruiz singled in the fourth.
Santander catching up: Anthony Santander, who was hitless in three at-bats as the designated hitter, said he’s feeling better.
Santander got a late start in summer training because he tested positive for Covid-19.
“Little by little, [I’ll] be able to be in full shape,” Santander said through a translator on a video conference call.
Santander is 3-for-18 (.167) with a home run and four RBIs.
Since he’s had the virus, he’s more sensitive to the Marlins’ outbreak — a reported 17 players — and news in general.
“It’s tough watching something like that with so many players involved,” Santander said. “Hopefully, they’ll get well soon.
“There are so many people affected because of this situation. It’s something to worry about, to think about.”
It sometimes makes it more difficult to concentrate on baseball.
“We try to keep those things separate, for sure,” Santander said. “We definitely talk about it every single day when we come to the ballpark, but the main conversation is, ‘let’s all try to take care of each other’ … Once the game starts, it’s time to compete. It’s time to beat the other team.
“Hopefully, the game can bring some joy to the fans. It’s much needed now.”
Looking ahead: The Tampa Bay Rays play three games against the Orioles this weekend. Alex Cobb, Wade LeBlanc, and either Tommy Milone or Kohl Stewart start against Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Yonny Chirinos.
The Orioles’ schedule for early next week isn’t known. The Yankees, who were supposed to play in Baltimore next Monday-Wednesday, were sent for a two-game series once their four games with Philadelphia were put on hold because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Though it hasn’t been announced, the Yankees could play four games with the Phillies next week, and the Orioles could play Miami.
The Marlins, who have suffered a devastating outbreak of the virus, are idle through the weekend, as are the Phillies, whose series with Toronto was postponed.
There could be an announcement on further schedule adjustments on Friday.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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