Despite having a 9-1 lead in the 6th inning, the Orioles lost to the Yankees 11-14 in 10 innings. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)
After the Orioles' brutal 14-11 loss to the New York Yankees on Friday night, manager Buck Showalter tried to pluck out the positives of a devastating defeat.
Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado barreled up balls for tape-measure home runs, a sign that better days are to come for both sluggers.
And while right-hander Brad Brach will wear the loss for blowing a three-run lead in the ninth, it's notable because of how good he has been to this point, throwing 12 scoreless innings to open the season before Friday's disaster.
Relievers Mychal Givens and Darren O'Day were cool under pressure, setting the stage for Brach, and no one in the Orioles dugout expected Brach to do anything but toss a scoreless ninth.
"You never assume anything," Showalter said. "Brad's been great this year and will be again. Darren is coming on, pitching well. Mychal got some big outs. We swung the bats well. Some good things happened tonight for us with Trumb and Manny kind of getting back to their level. That's good to see and I'll dwell on that tonight. But some guys who have been real good for us for quite a while had their challenges just like hitters do. You've got great track record with Manny and Trumb and they showed you some things tonight. Our bullpen … Brad's been one of the reasons why we're here and will be again."
Even though most of the scoring came after he left the game, right-hander Kevin Gausman shouldered some of the blame, knowing the home runs he allowed to Aaron Judge in the fifth and sixth innings formed the foundation of the Yankees' comeback. They didn't seem big at the time, but Gausman was hard on himself for not putting the Yankees away when he was up 9-1.
"I think just having that starter mentality of knowing that I should have gone deeper in the game and saved some guys," Gausman said. "That sixth inning was pretty bad. I was kind of cruising through five, but that sixth kind of went back to what I've been doing the last couple of outings. A lot of fastballs coming back in the zone. Yeah, that's on me."
Vidal Nuno threw just 12 pitches, but allowed what was the biggest blow of the game, a grand slam to Jacoby Ellsbury in the seventh that made the score 11-8 and handed the Yankees momentum.
Unable to stop the bleeding, that forced the Orioles' late-inning relievers into the game. The Orioles should never have had to lean on Givens, O'Day and Brach; maybe a couple of them, but no way all three.
Brach threw 30 pitches, so he's likely unavailable Saturday. O'Day and Givens can probably return.
Showalter said after the game that he believed the team might be able to dodge making a move to replenish the bullpen. Having said that, there's not much opportunity with the quick turnaround of a 1:05 p.m. game Saturday.
"I don't know yet," Showalter said. "On the surface, probably not, but we've got some length tomorrow and most everybody back we wanted to use with one or two exceptions. But Roger [McDowell] and I are going to sit down and take a look at it shortly. The quick turnaround to a 1 o'clock game is kind of tough."
That brings us to closer Zach Britton, who was unable to get through a full inning in his first minor league rehabilitation appearance, throwing 28 pitches in two-thirds of an inning. Britton allowed a solo homer and issued two walks. Britton could have rejoined the club Sunday, but Showalter said he wants to learn more about the rehab outing before making a decision on when he can return.
"I got a statistical report," Showalter said about Britton. "Said he felt good. Said he felt rusty, from what he told the trainer over there. Obviously you guys saw the line, so we'll re-examine it tomorrow. That's one of the reasons why we wanted to wait. Statistically tells you one thing, but there's a lot more to the story to that. So we will wait and collect the information tomorrow."