Austin Hays, Orioles come out swinging but lose, 8-7, to Yankees in Grapefruit League

The Orioles were averaging six runs per Grapefruit League game when they arrived at George M. Steinbrenner Field to face the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.

They needed just two innings to get to six against promising rotation prospect Jonathan Loaisiga, but the strong offensive performance would go to waste in an 8-7 loss that featured an eighth-inning comeback against O’s relievers Mychal Givens and Josh Lucas.


Austin Hays hammered a three-run double in a five-run second inning and hit his fourth home run of the spring in the seventh, but the Orioles fell to 9-8-2 in exhibition play.

Eric Young Jr. and Chris Davis contributed run-scoring singles to the second-inning rally after Cedric Mullins walked and essentially stole a run in the top of the first.

Here's a breakdown of some of the most important roster battles playing out in Orioles camp, including the starting rotation, catcher, shortstop, third base, and the outfield.

Wright gives some ground

Orioles right-hander Mike Wright got a rude greeting when he took the mound to start the game. He walked leadoff man Brett Gardner and gave up a long opposite-field home run to bigger-than-life slugger Aaron Judge.

Wright had not given up a run in his first four exhibition appearances and manager Brandon Hyde has encouraged him to be more aggressive in the strike zone this spring. He has done that all along, but the Yankees were the first team to take advantage of it.

They touched him up for six hits over 2 2/3 innings, but the big swing by Judge was the only one that left a mark on the scoreboard.

“That’s kind of the way the Yankees work … they make pitchers work,” Wright said. “The good news is I was throwing strikes and hopefully in the season those will translate to outs. I thought I got a lot of contact I was looking for and it just didn’t go my way this time.”

Davis on his at-bats

Davis said after he left the game that he was a bit hesitant during his first at-bat, taking three straight called strikes. He laid off a slider to fall behind in the second at-bat, then hit a line drive to left-center field to drive home the Orioles’ fifth run.

He said there was a method to him taking a lot of pitches before he dropped out of the exhibition lineup with a sore hip.


“Early on, I wanted to see as many pitches as I could,” he said. “It's tough in spring training because a lot of times you have at-bats against guys who are trying to make the team or trying to make an impression, and you take two pitches and you’re down 0-2.

“For me, I think the biggest thing is getting into a rhythm, getting into a position where I feel like I’m seeing the ball well., even if I’m taking a lot of called strikes, I think it’s more about what I’m seeing, how I’m feeling. That was my plan going in. The next few weeks, it’s time to start swinging a little bit.”

Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo, who underwent knee surgery in September is scheduled to make his first exhibition appearance on Wednesday.

Britton pitches a pair

Former Orioles closer Zack Britton entered the game in the third inning and pitched two scoreless. It was the first time he faced the O’s this spring, but it obviously was not the first time he pitched against them since he was traded to the Yankees last July.

He appeared in four games against the O’s late last season, allowing one run and striking out three in 4 2/3 innings.

Around the horn

Nathan Karns made his third straight one-inning appearance since missing a turn with arm soreness. He has held opponents hitless in all three of those games. … Richard Bleier made his second appearance of the spring and pitched a scoreless inning after allowing three hits and getting only two outs in an earlier game against the Yankees. … Rio Ruiz had two hits to raise his spring average to .345.