Advertisement

Jimmy Yacabonis roughed up second time through order in Orioles' 10-3 loss to Yankees

Orioles rookie Jimmy Yacabonis’ transition from reliever to starter has shown signs of promise this season. He has a good mid-90s fastball that gets on hitters quickly, as well as a slider that can miss bats. But in his past three spot starts — all of them as the 26th man to pitch the opening game of a doubleheader — Yacabonis has struggled once a lineup gets a first look at him.

On Saturday afternoon against the New York Yankees, he yielded four runs in the third inning during his second time through the order, shifting the momentum to send the Orioles to a 10-3 loss in Game 1 of a split doubleheader at Camden Yards.

Advertisement

“I don’t think I was too consistent with my fastball command today,” said Yacabonis, who was returned to Triple-A Norfolk after the doubleheader. “I left a couple pitches up that got hit. It’s a part of the game. It’s going to happen.”

The Orioles (37-92) didn’t match up to a high-fastball-feasting Yankees lineup that hit four homers and scored in six of nine innings.

The big blow of the third inning was Miguel Andújar’s three-run homer to center on a 1-0 slider Yacabonis left up in the zone. Andújar sent it an estimated 414 feet and gave the Yankees a 5-2 lead after the Orioles put up two runs in the second to take a one-run lead on Renato Núñez’s two-run single.

“He’s got a live arm, obviously,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Yacabonis. “He’s not that experienced with starting, but he’s experienced with pitching. It’s still got a lot of similarities. But it’s a step for him. Hopefully, he’ll learn from it.”

Yacabonis (0-2) was likely going to be limited to five innings anyway — he hasn’t logged more in any start this season — but his third-inning struggles led to him lasting just 3 1/3 innings.

Opponents entered Saturday hitting .320 against Yacabonis his second time through the order — compared to .231 the first time through — and four of the 11 hits against him the second time through have been home runs.

“Definitely [want to work on] pitch sequencing,” Yacabonis said. “You can’t throw the same pitch to the same guy twice. Sometimes it’s from at-bat to at-bat, sometimes it’s in the same at-bat. Setting up the pitch and not trying to overthrow pitches, just trying to hit my spot and that sets up my other pitches later in the at-bat.”

For an Orioles organization lacking in spot start options, Yacabonis has been one of the few pitchers to pick from when the club has needed a pitcher to cover a doubleheader start. He also started the opening game of a July 9 doubleheader against the Yankees and the opening game of an Aug. 11 doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. Both times he was optioned back to Norfolk after the doubleheader, as he was Saturday.

“It’s definitely been tough, but I’ve been going through it all year,” Yacabonis said. “So it’s not something I can use to make an excuse for. It’s part of the game and the situation I’m currently in, so I’ve got to work through it.”

Showalter said Yacabonis, who has thrown a career-high 92 2/3 innings this season, will return to Norfolk to finish the season as he nears his innings limit, which is believed to be around 100 innings. His previous career high was 82 innings a year ago.

“Physically I feel great,” Yacabonis said. “I think it’s a matter of getting my conditioning up or get it so that I can get deeper in games and have that same kind of velocity on my fastball throughout the game.”

Yacabonis fell behind 1-0 four batters into the game as a one-out walk to Giancarlo Stanton came around to score after Aaron Hicks’ double and Andújar’s RBI groundout. Still, the right-hander retired six of his first eight batters, limiting the damage before allowing a leadoff single to Shane Robinson in the third. He then walked leadoff hitter Brett Gardner on four pitches, missing with all fastballs, and after getting Stanton to line out, left a full-count fastball over the plate that Hicks hit to left to tie the game before Andújar went deep.

“Just command,” Showalter said. “Looked like after the first inning he was going to be able to give us some length there, but he used up a lot of pitches, deep counts, really just didn’t command the baseball like he has. It’s a work in progress. Today wasn’t a good day for him.”

Andújar’s homer run was the first of four that Orioles pitchers allowed in the game. Orioles right-hander Ryan Meisinger, a Dunkirk native, served up a two-run homer to Gardner on his third pitch of his outing, and Gleyber Torres hit a solo homer off Sean Gilmartin in the eighth inning. Hicks then hit a solo shot down the right-field line off right-hander Mike Wright Jr. in the ninth.

Advertisement

Orioles rookie center fielder Cedric Mullins took away what would have been a fifth home run — robbing Stanton of his 300th career homer to end the sixth inning, as the 5-foot-8 Mullins flagged down a well-hit ball to straightaway center, leaping against the wall and reaching his glove above it to haul it in.

Mullins had his second three-hit day in his 14th major league game, and drove in a run with a two-out single in the ninth. Núñez also had three hits.

Yankees starter J.A. Happ (15-6) held the Orioles to two runs on five hits through six innings, striking out nine and walking one. Luis Cessa had a three-inning save.

Advertisement
Advertisement