NEW YORK—The opening joyride came to a crashing end on Monday night in the Bronx.
After three strong performances by Oriole pitching in Boston, starter Jorge López ran into a suddenly powerful Yankees offense. In their first three games, New York hit just .218 while losing two of three to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Four walks in the fifth inning, three by López and one by Shawn Armstrong, led to a Giancarlo Stanton 471-foot grand slam and five-run inning in the Yankees’ 7-0 victory before 9,009 at Yankee Stadium. It was the Orioles’ 11th straight loss here.
López allowed one hit in the first three innings. Aaron Judge led off the fourth with his first home run, to right field.
In the fifth, manager Brandon Hyde pulled him after three walks with two outs.
“Sometimes, I try to be just too perfect in those situations,” López said. “It’s not panic or anything like that. I have to keep [being] aggressive like I did the first couple of innings.”
López acknowledged that it can be intimidating pitching to the Yankee sluggers.
“Great lineup,” he said. “It’s a power lineup. They’ve got some guys that can do [damage].”
Armstrong, who was pitching for the first time this season after the birth of a son on Wednesday, walked Aaron Hicks, allowing Gio Urshela to score, and then Stanton’s blast made it 6-0.
It was such a long blast that leftfielder Ryan Mountcastle didn’t even bother to chase it.
Paul Fry, who didn’t pitch in the first three games, retired only one of his five batters. After D.J. LeMahieu’s bases-loaded single, Mac Sceroler, one of the Orioles’ two Rule 5 pitchers, made his first appearance.
Fry had a 10.61 ERA in seven Grapefruit League games but Hyde said he wasn’t concerned.
“Paul had a nice year last year,” Hyde said. “Tonight, his command wasn’t there, walked [Jay] Bruce on four pitches, gave up ground-ball singles, his pitch count was up. It just wasn’t his night.”
Sceroler had a decidedly more difficult assignment than the other Rule 5 pick, Tyler Wells, who came into Sunday’s game in the ninth inning of an 11-3 Orioles lead.
Facing Judge, Sceroler caught him looking and then induced Hicks to pop out to second baseman Ramon Urías.
“I could finally breathe,” Sceroler said. “I knew I was still in the game, so I knew I couldn’t relax too much. I could take five or 10 minutes, process what just happened, and then breathe and then just get back to competing out there.”
Sceroler further saved the bullpen by retiring his first seven hitters, walking two, and then striking out Mike Tauchman to end the eighth.
“Once you get on the mound, it becomes a lot more familiar to you,” Sceroler said. “You tend to block out, ‘Where I am at? Who’s in the box? What’s the situation?’”
Sceroler hadn’t pitched above High-A until Monday night, and he was a long shot to make the team when spring training began.
“It’s a blessing just to get this opportunity,” Sceroler said. “To be put in a situation like that, I think that’s what every person wants to be put in just to prove themselves — that I can pitch and get the job done. It was definitely comforting for me to be put in that situation and succeeding … Hopefully, I can compete here, and my stuff is good enough to play here.”
After playing outfielder Austin Hays on the injured list because of a strained right hamstring, Hyde decided that Anthony Santander needed a day off after three consecutive day games. Ryan McKenna, who also was making his major league debut, played right and was 0-for-2 with a walk.
Besides putting Urías at second, Hyde gave Pat Valaika his first start of the season at first and made Trey Mancini the designated hitter.
Mancini, who missed the 2020 season after having colon cancer surgery, was introduced by public address announcer Paul Olden with a hearty, “Welcome back, Trey Mancini!” The Yankees responded by applauding him. Mancini struck out three times in four hitless at-bats.
The Orioles had just four hits, but one was by centerfielder Cedric Mullins, who has hit in each of the Orioles’ first four games. Mullins’ hit led off the sixth, and the Orioles had none after that.
Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery pitched six innings, allowing the four singles and striking out seven. Luis Cessa struck out three and walked one in two innings, and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side and walked one in his first appearance of 2021.
“We had a tough night collectively off of Montgomery,” Hyde said. “We had a tough time barreling the ball on Montgomery.”
Notes: The Orioles last won at Yankee Stadium on May 15, 2019. The 11-game losing streak in the Bronx ties the longest in club history. They also lost 11 straight at old Yankee Stadium from April 21, 1955-May 11, 1956. … The Orioles have scored one run or fewer in their last five games here, the longest by any team at the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. … Hyde said that he hoped Hays’ injury wasn’t severe. “Pretty optimistic that it’s not going to be very long. It’s a mild strain. It’s a hamstring, and you never know, but they were fairly confident it wouldn’t be very long.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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