The last five games between the Orioles and the Yankees have been greatly impacted by the longball. In that span, the teams have combined for 25 extra-base hits, and 21 of them have been home runs.
And in Friday night’s 8-5 loss to the Yankees, the Orioles hit just as many homers as their opponents – three. But it was the way the Yankees pounced on Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen with their trio of longballs that proved to be the difference.
The Yankees’ three homers off Chen -- who was pitching on five days rest -- came in a flurry, all with runners on base, and all within a nine-batter span through the New York order.
“It's one of those outings,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You look at the statistics and [it] probably doesn't match what he was carrying.
"I'll tell you, he had good stuff,” Showalter said. “You've just got to give them some credit. He didn't make many mistakes, and the ones he did, they obviously made him pay for it.”
His first – and maybe worst mistake – was leaving a 2-0 change-up high in the zone to Russell Martin with two on and one out in the fourth, a ball that Martin jumped on for a three-run homer to left to give the Yankees a three-run lead, 3-0.
Three batters later, former Oriole Steve Pearce hit a two-run shot by the outstretched arm of leftfielder Nate McLouth and into the front row of the left-field seats to make it 5-0. Alex Rodriguez’s two-run shot the next inning quickly put the Orioles into a 7-0 hole. Both of those homers were two-run shots coming off of elevated four-seam fastballs.
"Actually I felt real good today,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “I wasn't able to attack the strike zone like in the late innings, and that was the problem. This is the Yankees, and I made a couple of mistakes and they made me pay the price.
“This is the Yankees, and I made a couple of mistakes and they made me pay the price."
In games in which Chen has allowed more than one homer, the Orioles are 1-5.
Chen’s seven earned runs allowed tied a career high – he allowed seven in an 8-2 home loss to Kansas City on August 9 – and was just the third time in 11 starts in which Chen allowed more than three earned runs in a game.
The Orioles still felt they could rebound from being down seven, but the margin was too large to overcome.
“They did some damage early and we were down 7-0 at one point,” McLouth said. “We just kept having good at-bats and tried to work our way into it. We were able to do that to some extent but we couldn’t get over that hump.”
"I couldn't [find] my location tonight," Chen said.