Three months after disastrous 2018 debut, Orioles' Jimmy Yacabonis gets a do-over vs. Yankees

Three months ago, Jimmy Yacabonis could only watch from the mound in his first appearance of the season as a carousel of New York Yankees — Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorious — crossed the plate, moving a close game out of the Orioles’ reach.

Monday, things went a little differently.


Even though the 5-4 win was awarded to reliever Mike Wright Jr., Yacabonis maintained his composure against the Yankees in his second start, limiting homer-happy New York to just one in five innings, throwing five strikeouts and allowing only six hits and three runs.

Yacabonis, who admittedly struggles with stamina, craved contact to keep his pitch count down. He coaxed the Yankees into four groundouts, four popouts and a pair of lineouts.

“As a starter, I try to be broader with the strike zone … rather than coming from the bullpen and try to be fine. Doesn’t necessarily happen all the time,” he said.

Limiting one of baseball’s top offenses was another sign that Yacabonis’ leap from reliever to starter wasn’t a mistake. Of his 71 pitches, 44 were strikes.

Forced to address his future as if he was already gone, Manny Machado essentially said his goodbyes to the Orioles and its fans--right before he suited up and batted third against the Yankees.

“It’s teaching me how to pitch, how to be a better pitcher, and developing my secondary pitches, for sure,” he said. “Just kind of keeping everything under control when things don’t really go my way.”

The 26-year-old rookie felt pressure early, after Giancarlo Stanton blasted a solo shot to left field, but let it fade away. As throngs of Yankees fans roared at Camden Yards, Yacabonis shook off the home run to strike out Clint Frazier and force Neil Walker and Brandon Drury to to fly out and ground out, respectively.

When Yacabonis turned over the ball to Wright in the sixth, the Yankees were still up by two runs, of course. But his outing was nonetheless unrecognizable from the one Yacabonis endured in New York in April, a nightmarish three-run inning that kept him from a major league mound for over a month.

“It’s a process. If you go back through it and you see — sometimes his missed location is actually in his favor because guys are looking out there and he throws it [in],” manager Buck Showalter said. “There were a lot of missed locations. But he gave us what we needed to stay in the game, and we’ll take that for what it is.”

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