With a lopsided 10-2 victory before an announced 26,340 at Camden Yards, the Yankees (59-30) dusted themselves off after losing the first game and reminded everyone why the Orioles have the worst record in baseball.
Manager Buck Showalter likes to say that momentum is just the next game’s starting pitcher, and after the Orioles (25-66) enjoyed a 5-4 victory in the late afternoon, rookie Yefry Ramírez could not maintain the momentum he had built up over his first three major league starts.
He had pitched well, though not for long, in all three and given up just four runs over 14 1/3 innings. But despite his nice impression (a 2.51 ERA), he’d gotten so little run support that he came into Monday night’s start with an 0-2 record.
This time, he struggled from the first inning and let runners reach base each time he took the mound. It wasn’t ugly, but when playing for a team that came into the day with 13 losses in its past 14 games and an average of 2.9 runs per game over that span, it doesn’t have to be.
Ramírez wiggled out of that first-inning jam with just one run allowed and seemed to pull himself together. He worked into the fourth before No. 9 hitter Neil Walker dropped a two-out bunt single down the third base line and leadoff man Brett Gardner clobbered a fastball that almost reached Eutaw Street.
Through interpreter Ramon Alarcon, Ramirez said that he was looking forward to facing the team that sold him to the Orioles last July 31.
“I wanted to show them they made a mistake,’’ he said, “but if just didn’t work out.”
Nothing much mattered after that the home run. Ramírez ended up allowing four runs over four-plus innings, but the Orioles stayed on script and produced another in a series of anemic offensive performances. They have scored two runs or fewer in six of their past eight games. On this night, the Yankees’ Luis Cessa, who had not pitched more than three innings in a game this year, made an exception for the Orioles and shut them out over six innings, allowing just three hits.
The game completely unraveled as setup man Brad Brach’s struggles continued in the eighth. He gave up four runs (three earned) to jack his ERA up to an uncharacteristic 4.63.
Gardner tormented the Orioles pitching staff all evening. He started the first-inning push with a leadoff single, hit the decisive homer in the fourth and doubled in the four-run eighth. He came back up in the ninth with a chance to hit for the cycle but settled for an infield single and a four-hit game.
The Orioles finally broke up the shutout in the eighth inning on a two-run homer by leadoff man Tim Beckham. It was his second home run of the year.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
Become a subscriber today to support sports commentary like this. Start getting full access to our signature journalism for just 99 cents for the first four weeks.