The Yankees began their seven game road trip that will take them through Baltimore and Toronto with a 3-2 loss. The score seems to indicate that the Yankees were in the game until the very last batter, and indeed they were, but from the start the game had the feel of a let-down. That "spark" whatever it might be, just wasn't present for the game. The Yankees weren't sharp, they weren't crisp, and the product wasn't all that much fun to watch.
The top of the first inning gave an indication of what was to come. Brett Gardner began the inning with a single. Gary Sanchez then followed this with a pop out to left. Matt Holliday came up - and bounced into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Orioles, on the other hand, worked Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery very hard in their half of the first inning. Joey Rickard led off with a single and was pushed to second on a slow ground out by Chris Davis. After Manny Machado struck out, Mark Trumbo singled home Rickard. Wellington Castillo also singled before Montgomery struck out Trey Mancini to end the frame. While that seems, on paper, like a solid enough first inning, not great, but the Orioles only scored one run, it took Jordan Montgomery 34 pitches to retire the side. In essence, he used up too many bullets to get through one frame.
The Yankees came back to tie the game in the top of the second. Stalin Castro led off the inning and was hit by a pitch. He then alertly tagged up on a long fly by Aaron Judge that nearly resulted in outfield collision. Didi Gregorious then hit an infield single that started to bounce away from Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles second baseman. Castro took a long turn around third, but did not try to score. A few pitches later Aaron Hicks scored Castro on a sacrifice fly. Chase Headley then singled, which generated hope, but Chris Carter grounded out weakly to short.
In the bottom of the second, the Orioles worked Jordan Montgomery hard putting two runners on base (a double and a walk), but Montgomery was able to strike out Chris Davis to end the threat. Montgomery bent a lot, but he never really broke.
Brett Gardner led off the top of the third with a double - again creating hope for a possible big inning. It wasn't to be. Gardner tried to tag from second on a deep fly ball to left field. He was thrown out easily by Trey Mancini, the Orioles' left fielder. Matt Holliday followed this by flying out to right field.
In the bottom of the third, the Orioles plated the only runs they'd need. With one out, Mark Trumbo bounced a ball over the mound that Starlin Castro tried to field, but he couldn't come up with the ball. Castro was charged with an error, though an argument could have been made that it should have been ruled a hit. After Wellington Castillo flew to left, Trey Mancini singled, and then Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run double that gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead. (Because of the Castro error, both runs were unearned.)
The Yankees' fourth, fifth, and sixth innings were bland. They went down in order in the fourth. In the fifth, Aaron Hicks led-off with a single, but was left on first base when the following three batters were retired. A lead-off rocket single by Gary Sanchez amounted to nothing in the sixth inning as Matt Holiday followed this by grounding into his second double play.
The Orioles chased Montgomery out of the game with one out back-to-back singles in the bottom of the fifth. It was here that the Yankees' bullpen took over - and was brilliant. If the offense could have managed a run-scoring rally, the bullpen's great work would have been a highlight, but alas!, it wasn't to be.
Jonathan Holder faced five total batters to close out the fifth and sixth innings. He retired them all - three by strikeout.
The last life the Yankees showed came in the top of the seventh inning. Aaron Judge began the inning with a laser-beam home run to center field. The blast was Judge's lead-leading 17th homer. Two outs later, Chase Headley had a nine pitch at bat and worked out a walk. Chris Carter followed this by striking out.
For the Yankees, Chasen Shreve pitched two excellent innings as well. He allowed no hits, walked one batter, and struck out three.
Daren O'Day retired the Yankees in order in the eighth inning.
Brad Brach did the same in the ninth. In retiring the side, Brach struck out Aaron Judge and then Didi Gregorius to end the game.
The Orioles left with a 3-2 victory that never quite felt that close.
* I might be imagining this, but it seems that as soon as Chris Carter comes up to bat, the count is already 0-2.
* Jordan Montgomery worked extremely hard in his 4.1 innings. On seven different occasions, batters went to a full count against him.
* This year is the 25th anniversary of Camden Yards. It remains a wonderful place to watch a baseball game.
* Since 2014, the Yankees have lost 10 consecutive series at Camden Yards. (It might be nice to watch a game there, but watching the Yankees lose so much isn't much fun.)
* (Non-Yankee News that resonates greatly with me as an elementary school principal...) It seems that in an attempt to drive ticket sales, the Miami Marlins are now giving free fidget spinners with any ticket purchase. Fidget spinners are all over schools right now - and not just elementary schools. I guess the Marlins are looking to get into this craze.
* The series resumes tomorrow in Baltimore at 7:05 p.m.