Orioles right-hander Brad Brach seemed to have overcome his second-half struggles, coming into Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium having pitched nine straight appearances without an earned run. Most recently, he had tossed two scoreless innings to wrap up Thursday's 4-0 win in Toronto.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has chosen his spots carefully with Brach in the second half of the season, especially after he threw 49 1/3 innings in the first half.
The fact that he went to Brach two batters into the eighth inning Saturday wasn’t a surprise. In fact, there’s some reason to wonder why he didn’t go to Brach earlier if he was concerned that taking left-hander Wade Miley out would allow the Yankees’ left-handed bats to come off the bench. Brach has shown the ability to defend himself against left-handers of late.
The surprise was how poorly Brach pitched. The All-Star reliever allowed four of the five batters he faced to reach base, turning a tie game into a 7-3 loss, preventing the Orioles from having the opportunity to clinch a postseason berth.
“I just sucked,” Brach said. “I was not good today. That was pretty much it. Unfortunately, this was Game 161, and a tie game. Just not very good today."
Brach entered the game with one out in the eighth and opened up by walking pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury on five pitches, and allowing a double down the first base line to Chase Headley.
“When things are going bad, it’s what’s going to happen,” Brach said. “Can’t walk the leadoff guy like I did. Chase just placed it right. Sometimes it’s better to place it right than to hit it hard.”
Austin Romine then looped a two-run single to left, and two batters later, Ronald Torreyes walked, prompting Showalter to pull Brach in favor of Oliver Drake, who then allowed a two-run double to Brett Gardner.
“It’s frustrating anytime you have a lead heading into the sixth inning, especially with the bullpen that we have and we weren’t able to get it done,” Brach said. “Obviously with the magnitude of the game amplifies that a little bit. Not a good feeling.”
Brach was charged with four runs, the most he has allowed all season.
“He’s been pitching pretty well,” Showalter said. “It’s almost impossible to continue at the level he was pitching for about three-fourths of the season. I think everybody knows [Yankees closer Dellin] Betances is one of the best relievers in the game and everybody knows Brad is. That’s the world they live in. It’s hard to be perfect every time out there, just like none of us are in our lives.”
Machado breaks out of slump, makes costly overslide
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado broke out of an 0-for-17 slump with his solo home run in the third inning Saturday, his 37th of the season. But he also made a costly base-running mistake in the top of the seventh.
Machado drew a two-out walk, and then attempted to go from first to third on Mark Trumbo’s single to right. He beat Rob Refsnyder’s throw to third base but overslid the bag, his right hand coming off and unable to get back on before Headley tagged him.
Bourn back on the base
Right fielder Michael Bourn, whose two-out, two-run single in the second gave the Orioles a quick lead, reached base in all four of his plate appearances Saturday.
Bourn has now reached base in each of his past six plate appearances (four hits and two walks).