When the Orioles leave Yankee Stadium for the final time this season, it can’t be soon enough, because win or lose, they’re been outplayed in every facet of the game in The Bronx this season.
The Orioles used to play well here, but they go into Sunday’s series finale having lost eight of nine games at Yankee Stadium, and those eight losses have come by an average margin of nearly eight runs.
They’ve allowed 31 homers in nine games in The Bronx – that’s more than three a game – the most at any opposing ballpark this season by 22 homers.
They’ve also issued 52 walks in nine games – an average of 5.7 a game – which is also most in any opposing ballpark by 20 walks.
That’s never a good combination.
Saturday’s start by Jeremy Hellickson offered both extremes as he was done in by a pair of three-run homers – coming in back-to-back innings. Didi Gregorius’ third-inning homer came after Hellickson issued back-to-back two-out walks. Greg Bird’s blast in the fourth came after a leadoff double was followed by a walk.
Hellickson’s fastball velocity was noticeably down. After averaging around 91-92, his four-seamer averaged just 89.2 mph on Saturday. He was forced to rely pretty heavily on his changeup, throwing it a season-high 48.5 percent of the time (33 of his 68 pitches), and both home runs came off the changeup.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter pointed to a small variance in velocity between his fastball and his offspeed pitches, which allowed the Yankees hitters to sit on their pitch.
Now, the Orioles will turn to right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez to avoid a sweep. He allowed three runs in five innings on Monday in Toronto, but he pitched better than his line indicated.
Two of the three runs off him in that game came in an error-filled second inning when Mark Trumbo lost a ball in the twilight and bobbled the ball into the stands and Adam Jones added a throwing error turning a double into a triple.
Jimenez has struggled against the Yankees in three outings (two starts) this season, posting a 11.42 ERA. In his only start at Yankee Stadium this season on April 29, Jimenez allowed seven runs – six earned – over 3 1/3 innings in a 12-4 loss.
He did pitch a scoreless inning of relief against the Yankees on Sept. 5 at Camden Yards, but it’s difficult to evaluate that outing against the starts.