BALTIMORE—Two years ago, the Orioles lost 17 of 19 games to the New York Yankees. Now, they’re more competitive with them.
It took the Orioles 10 innings to salvage a split of their four-game series with the Yankees and send them on a six-game West Coast trip with an impressive win.
Cedric Mullins’ sacrifice fly to center brought home Ramón Urias, who was the automatic runner, from third for a 4-3 win in 10 before 7,738 at Oriole Park on Thursday.
Urias moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Pat Valaika, and then Mullins flew to centerfielder Aaron Hicks, whose throw home wasn’t close. Jonathan Loaisiga (1-2) was the loser.
Tanner Scott (1-2) pitched a hitless 10th for the win.
Last season, the Orioles (11-14), lost seven of 10 games to New York (11-14). This year, they’ve won three of seven. The Yankees won two of three at Yankee Stadium earlier this month.
“I definitely think we’ve taken a step on the mound,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It allows us to stay in games for longer periods of time. Our bullpen has really been good.
“I think we’re staying in games better against better teams because we’re pitching better out of the ‘pen.”
Oriole relievers allowed one run on five hits in six innings. The offense was paced by Trey Mancini, who had three hits and drove in the Orioles’ first two runs; Austin Hays, whose double in the eighth put the Orioles ahead, 3-2; and Mullins, who started the game with a bunt hit. Hyde batted Hays behind Mullins in the order to help jump-start the offense.
“We’re still not swinging the bat the way we’re capable of,” Hyde said. “It’s nice to win games like this … playing against really good teams that are built to play in October. That’s a confidence-builder for our guys.
“I feel like we did so many things well today. Really good situational hitting there at the end.”
The Orioles took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth against former Orioles reliever Darren O’Day. Mullins walked and scored on Hays’ double to center. Hays moved to third on Gleyber Torres’ throwing error but stayed there as Mancini grounded to short, Maikel Franco popped to third and Pedro Severino flied to left.
The Yankees tied the game in the ninth against César Valdez, who walked leadoff hitter Mike Ford, struck out Brett Gardner and walked DJ LeMahieu before striking out Giancarlo Stanton. Torres then hit a ground-rule double to deep left-center that scored Ford and moved LeMahieu to third. Gio Urshela lined to short to end the inning.
For Valdez, it was his second blown save in seven chances.
“He’s not going to be perfect on the year,” Hyde said. “But we trust him with the ball to strike them out or get the ball on the ground.”
Mancini had his first three-hit game of the season. His RBI single in the first scored Mullins, who led off with a single and took second on a sacrifice bunt by Hays. In Wednesday’s game, Mancini had hits in his final two at-bats.
Mancini, who singled in the third, hit his fifth home run against Jordan Montgomery in the sixth. It was Montgomery’s last batter.
“I’ve definitely felt better the last couple of days,” Mancini said. “I had a couple of spurts this year where l felt like maybe I broke out, and did everything, but I never had that feeling, I’d say that I did a couple of years ago. I keep searching.
“[Hitting coach Don Long] has been a huge help. We actually watched film yesterday. We played a lot of my successful at-bats from a couple of years ago, and what I notice is everything is so simple.”
Mancini, who was batting .151 on April 15th, has raised his average to .247.
Mancini, who missed 2020 after having colon cancer surgery, noted a key difference in the last Orioles team he played on, in 2019, and the current one.
‘We have a lot of the same guys on our team, and we have that much more experience under our belt,” Mancini said. “I’m so impressed with our bullpen, the way a lot of those guys have progressed and advanced.”
Chad Green relieved Montgomery and retired all six Orioles he faced. The last five didn’t put the ball in play, and Green struck out the final four batters.
The Orioles faced Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. He struck out Ryan Mountcastle, DJ Stewart and Urias and has now struck out 20 of his 29 batters in 2021.
Lopez’s day: For the first time in the last nine games, the Orioles’ starter wasn’t involved in the decision.
Jorge López allowed two runs on four hits, walking two and striking out three in four-plus innings.
López left with runners on first and second with none out in the fifth.
“I’d like to score a few more runs so it’s easier to keep him out there,” Hyde said. “I’d love to see him grind through that inning if we had a 5-0 lead.”
Adam Plutko allowed a single to Giancarlo Stanton, loading the bases. He retired Torres on a short fly to right and struck out Urshela before allowing a two-run single by Rougned Odor.
Notes: Hyde said that shortstop Freddy Galvis, who missed the last three games because of a groin injury could be back for Friday night’s game in Oakland. … Oriole pitchers for the series in Oakland are scheduled to be John Means, Matt Harvey and Bruce Zimmermann. Friday night’s game time is 9:40 pm. After the weekend series against the Athletics, the Orioles will play three games in Seattle and return home on May 7th for a four-game series against Boston .… The Triple-A Norfolk Tides announced that they would have a capacity of 4.741 for their home opener at Harbor Park on May 18th. … Left-handed pitcher Wade LeBlanc, who was designated for assignment on Sunday, has cleared outright waivers and elected free agency.