Camden Yards felt vast with the backdrop of an empty ballpark for the Orioles’ home opener Wednesday night, with the coronavirus pandemic altering one of the rare days the stadium feels crowded and cozy.
The visiting Yankees, of course, have a way of making the ballpark feel quite small these days. The unscheduled guests came into Camden Yards on Wednesday and resumed their predilection for hitting home runs out of it at an unprecedented rate in a 9-3 Orioles loss.
“You’ve got to try to keep the ball in the ballpark against these guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
The second pitch Asher Wojciechowski threw in the game after a lengthy, made-for-television pregame ceremony was hit onto the right-field flag court for a home run by DJ LeMahieu. Catcher Pedro Severino was charged with catcher interference twice for putting his glove in the path of a pair of swings, and the Orioles (2-2) were fortunate to get back to the dugout trailing 2-0.
Leadoff man Austin Hays walked and scored from first on a double by the hot-hitting José Iglesias, but that was all the Orioles would muster for a while against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Their next hit came in the seventh inning.
By then, they already trailed mightily. Third-inning home runs by Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks made it 5-1, and while Wojciechowski settled in to complete five innings, reliever Evan Phillips walked two in the sixth and watched each runner come around to score.
“I just thought Asher missed location with the pitches there,” Hyde said. “All three were fastballs, just not up enough or located down. He just kind of threw them.”
Wojciechowski said: “They’re the New York Yankees. You can’t make mistakes. You’ve got to execute well, go out and compete and really be on top of your game. I made three mistakes tonight, and they got hit for homers.”
The Orioles pulled back with an aggressive spell against Cole in the seventh: Renato Núñez doubled, Dwight Smith Jr. hit a home run, and then Severino doubled on three consecutive pitches to make it 7-3 and chase Cole.
Cole, though was masterful between the Orioles’ fits of offense. The richest free-agent pitcher in baseball history struck out seven in his second win of the season.
After the Orioles took two of three games from the Yankees in the opening series of 2019, the Yankees have won the last 17 meetings. The Yankees pushed their road winning streak over the Orioles to 16 games, tied for the second-longest in American League history. The Red Sox had 18 straight road wins over the New York Highlanders from 1911 to 1913.
An Orioles bullpen that’s always looking for consistency got a strong outing from Shawn Armstrong, who made his season debut and retired all six Yankees he faced on 20 pitches.
Cody Carroll, who did not record an out on Opening Day on Friday in Boston, recorded one out and was charged with two runs in the ninth inning.
Iglesias leaves early
Iglesias, who made the final out of the sixth inning on a groundout and at that point had the Orioles’ only hit, was replaced for the top of the seventh inning by Pat Valaika. Hyde said Iglesias is dealing with some quadriceps soreness from the weekend series against the Red Sox.
“I probably saw him not get out of the box real good in that first inning, on the double,” Hyde said. “I was monitoring him. He wanted to stay in there. And when the game was a six-run game, something like that, I just went to him and wanted to get him out of the game at that point.”
Severino’s two catcher interferences in one inning “was a first to me,” Hyde said, noting that Severino has never had that problem before and that the issue was “unusual.”
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He added that the Orioles’ primary catcher was still getting used to some of the team’s pitchers and some different receiving techniques, which explain some of his issues Wednesday.