The Orioles’ 9-3 loss sent them to their ninth defeat in their past 10 games as they fell to 72-77, marking the first time they’ve been five games under .500 since July 29.
The 150 runs the Orioles have allowed in 18 games against the Yankees — they still have one more game to play in The Bronx on Sunday — set a record for the most they’ve allowed against any opponent in one season since the franchise began in Baltimore in 1954 as well as the most any team has allowed against one opponent in one season since the beginning of the expansion era in 1961.
Talk of the postseason all but officially shelved, the Orioles draw nearer to their first losing season since 2011 with every loss. The Orioles must go 9-4 over their final 13 games just to finish the season at .500.
“It’s been tough,” said right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who was pulled from the game three batters into the fourth inning after he allowed a pair of three-run homers. “We were right in the thick of things a few weeks ago and yeah, it’s been frustrating.”
First, they have to escape Yankee Stadium, where the Orioles have allowed 98 runs this season for an average of 10.9 a game and lost eight of nine.
The Orioles’ eight losses in The Bronx this season have had an average margin of defeat of 7.75 runs.
“There’s a lot of things you could look into,” manager Buck Showalter said of the team’s lopsided loses in New York. “We’ve made really a lot of bad pitches that should end up in the bleachers. And we walk people before they hit them, so that’s a bad combination. There’s a lot of bad pitches being made with some stuff that isn’t up to what they’re capable of taking out there.”
Hellickson, who owns a 7.29 ERA in nine starts since the Orioles acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 28, has allowed six or more runs in three of his past four starts.
On Saturday, he battled his command, leaving pitches up on the zone and walking four batters, three of which ended up scoring on home runs.
“It hurt a lot,” Hellickson said of the walks. “It’s kind of been strange, three of the last four starts I think I’ve had four walks in all three of them. I really haven’t gone through anything like that. Then the game in between, I have no walks. I’m kind of fighting myself, fighting my delivery. You know, just kind of difficult to get the ball down right now.”
As in many of Hellickson’s starts with the Orioles, it unraveled quickly. He had retired eight of the first 10 batters he faced, allowing one single and one walk, before issuing back-to-back two-out walks in the third after a visit from head athletic trainer Richie Bancells.
“Yeah, just felt a little tightness, a little spasm...” Hellickson said. “Just really didn’t get loose after that, but, it really didn’t hurt or bother me. I just didn’t execute.”
Didi Gregorius made Hellickson pay, sending a 1-0 changeup over the outer part of the plate into the right-field stands to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
Hellickson would then fail to get an out in the fourth, allowing a leadoff double to Jacoby Ellsbury and walking Todd Frazier before Greg Bird turned on a 2-2 changeup, sending it an estimated 409 feet into the second deck in right field.
Hellickson, who has been able to keep the ball in the park for most of his career, has allowed 34 homers this season, tied for second most in baseball, including 12 in nine games with the Orioles.
“His stuff’s down [in velocity] a little bit,” Showalter said. “He had a couple good outings when that fastball’s 90-92 [mph], but the curveball hasn’t been a pitch. Usually he gets ahead in some counts with it. He’s had to go to the cutter some and they’re a lot of the same-speed pitches.”
Todd Frazier added a two-run homer off Donnie Hart in the seventh, giving the Yankees 31 homers off Orioles pitching in nine games at Yankee Stadium.
Hays gets first major league hit, then first homer: Austin Hays, who made his third big league start on Saturday, recorded his first major league hit in his first at-bat and then added his first major league home run in the top of the ninth inning.
Hays, the likely organizational player of the year, was hitless in his first seven plate appearances with the Orioles before hitting a 2-2 pitch into center field off Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery for his first hit.
After the hit, the Orioles dugout asked for the ball, and third baseman Manny Machado tossed a decoy into the stands as Hays stared into the dugout.
In the ninth inning, Hays turned on a 1-0 fastball from left-hander Chasen Shreve, sending it into the right-field seats with an exit velocity of 102.3 mph.
“It was definitely a weight lifted off my shoulders there, get the monkey off my back,” Hays said. “Get the first hit and carry it into a couple more good ABs and putting a good swing on a good pitch to hit that last AB.”
On Thursday, catching prospect Chance Sisco recorded his first hit followed by his first homer in a loss to the Yankees.
“I don’t care how long, how painful [the losing] is, anything that’s not in the Orioles’ best interest is painful for all of us,” Showalter said. “But you do need to step back and realize what huge moments those are for those two young men, regardless of where it’s at and what venue it’s at. They’re almost trying to hide their elation. Since they were young boys they probably dreamed of moments like that. I gave Chance the lineup card and I’m sure I’ll give it to Austin. Those are huge moments for them.”
Hardy returns with multihit game: The Orioles had just six hits Saturday, two of them from shortstop J.J. Hardy, who saw his first game action since returning from the disabled list last week.
Hardy, who made his first start since he was hit by a pitch that broke a bone in his right wrist June 18, singled to left off Montgomery in the fifth. He reached on a two-out infield single in the seventh.
He also reached on a one-out walk in the ninth and scored on Hays’ home run.
Hardy returned from the DL last Friday, but didn’t play in any of the previous eight games since he came back.
“It’s been hard, yeah,” Hardy said about watching the team’s recent struggles from the bench. “It’s been hard, but can’t say it’s been harder than it was today. That’s bad also. Just frustrating.”
Montgomery held the Orioles scoreless for six innings, allowing four hits while striking out six and walking one. He owns a 2.67 ERA in five starts against the Orioles this season.
Dating to a loss to the Yankees on Sept. 7, the Orioles have scored three or fewer runs in nine of their past 10 games.