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Depleted Orioles lose 19th straight to Yankees, 6-5, in game typical of 2020 baseball

It was perhaps the most 2020 of baseball games. A contest scheduled to last seven innings went nine anyway. Both managers put their designated hitters into the field as their benches thinned. A pitcher avoided a walk-off loss in the bottom of an inning, started the next frame automatically at second base and scored the go-ahead run off a pitcher who eventually made his way to second base and scored, too.

But in the end, it was much like most other recent games between the Orioles and New York Yankees, with Baltimore falling 6-5 in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader. It marked the Orioles’ 19th straight loss to their American League East foe and 18th straight defeat to the Yankees at Camden Yards.

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The latter is tied for the second-longest road winning streak in history. The night’s second game gave the Orioles (16-21) a quick chance to keep the Yankees from matching the late-1940s Brooklyn Dodgers’ 19 consecutive road wins over the Cincinnati Reds.

As a result of rule changes for the 2020 season, both the eighth and ninth — officially an extra-inning with doubleheader games this year having only seven innings of regulation — began with a runner automatically at second. After both New York and Baltimore wasted their opportunities in the eighth, Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder opened the ninth on second base and scored on a single by Miguel Andújar, who scored New York’s second run of the frame off Baltimore’s Travis Lakins Sr.

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With Anthony Santander having exited the game with an oblique injury after lining out to end the eighth, Lakins was in his spot in the order and began the bottom of the ninth at second. He came home when Renato Núñez grounded into a double play, but it was the only run the Orioles’ scored in their half of the ninth as Baltimore finished 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

They wasted opportunities to break a 4-4 tie in the sixth, seventh and eighth. Former Orioles closer Zack Britton loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but retired Santander and José Iglesias to preserve the tie. Hanser Alberto walked with two outs off Aroldis Chapman in the seventh and stole second but was stranded there when Pat Valaika struck out. After Tanner Scott stranded the go-ahead run at third in the top of the eighth, Valaika automatically began the bottom half at second, but the Orioles were unable to bring him home against Holder.

“We had many opportunities to win the game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Didn’t get it done.”

Santander winced periodically during his inning-ending at-bat, lining out to left to strand two in scoring position. He wasn’t in the lineup for the second game.

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Spot start

Scheduled Game 1 starter Alex Cobb was placed on the injured list earlier in the day, for reasons Hyde described only as “following protocol.” The Orioles notified Thomas Eshelman about 10:30 a.m. Friday that he would instead start, and he answered the unexpected call early.

Eshelman retired the first five Yankees, but Gary Sánchez’s first-pitch homer put New York on the board. It was Sánchez’s 17th home run against the Orioles, matching teammate Aaron Judge and Toronto’s Randal Grichuk for the third most against Baltimore since the start of the 2016 season.

Tyler Wade, New York’s No. 9 hitter, began the third with a grounder to first, but the ball bounced off Núñez’s glove and back toward home plate. With Wade running up the line, Eshelman dived for the ball in an effort to get an out, but Wade hurdled him and reached safely. Eshelman said the play didn’t contribute to hit struggles that followed.

“Physically, I was fine,” he said. “Just didn’t execute pitches after that.”

A walk and single loaded the bases for Brett Gardner, who smacked Eshelman’s first pitch up the middle to score two. Another Eshelman walk reloaded the bases, and after an unproductive fly out, Hyde brought in Branden Kline, added to the roster Friday as the corresponding move to Cobb going on the IL.

Kline struck out Sánchez for the second out but lost a nine-pitch battle to Mike Tauchman, walking in another run on Eshelman’s account. But Kline retired four of the next five batters he faced with two strikeouts to complete his 2020 debut.

Evan Phillips, Dillon Tate, Hunter Harvey and Scott followed with scoreless frames out of the bullpen.

“Really happy with how our relievers threw the baseball,” Hyde said. “Gave us a chance to win the game. Should’ve won the game multiple times.”

Homer happy

The Orioles’ struggles with runners in scoring position meant they were dependent on home runs to score.

After a 1-2-3 first from Eshelman, Cedric Mullins continued his bounceback 2020 season with a leadoff home run off New York’s Michael King. It was Mullins’ first leadoff homer for the Orioles since Sept. 18, 2018, when the Yankees’ winning streak at Camden Yards was only five.

After Mullins’ homer, the Orioles offense went quiet until the fourth, when Rio Ruiz’s first homer since Aug. 15 cut their deficit to one.

In the fifth, Rúñez’s home run into the Orioles’ bullpen tied the game. Warming for the top of the sixth should Baltimore be trailing, Lakins caught the ball and celebrated his way to the bullpen bench, with the newly tied game meaning Tate would take the mound. The Orioles didn’t score again until Lakins crossed the plate in the ninth.

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