The Orioles’ surprisingly good start to the 2019 season began with a series victory at Yankee Stadium before New York visited Camden Yards and unleashed what became a record-setting barrage of home runs.
In 2021, the Yankees didn’t wait to travel south before spoiling the fun. Aaron Judge’s short-porch solo shot and Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth grand slam provided most of New York’s offense in a 7-0 victory Monday night that left Baltimore with its first loss of the young season.
After a sweep of the Boston Red Sox in which they pitched effectively and hit timely, the Orioles at least did the former through Monday’s early innings. Orioles right-hander Jorge López and Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery both worked three scoreless innings, allowing a hit each. But after Montgomery kept his roll going in the fourth, López couldn’t match him. He fell behind 2-0 against Judge, who lofted a home run into the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. The solo shot, which Statcast projected at 344 feet, gave the Orioles their first deficit of the season.
But it was merely a popup compared to Stanton’s blow an inning later. López walked Jay Bruce to open the frame, then induced a pair of grounders, each hit in a manner preventing the Orioles’ infield from turning a double play. He then lost his command, issuing consecutive five-pitch walks. His three walks in the fifth matched as many as Orioles starters had allowed in their first 21 ⅔ innings.
“Sometimes, I try to just be too perfect in those situations,” López said. “It’s not anything, like, panic. I’ve just got to keep being aggressive like I did the first couple innings.”
With the bases loaded, manager Brandon Hyde turned to newly activated reliever Shawn Armstrong, who allowed only two of 13 inherited runners to score a year ago. A dozen pitches later, he exceeded that, walking Aaron Hicks to bring in a run before Stanton sent his down-the-middle fastball an estimated 471 feet, the third-longest home run the Orioles have allowed since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
“It’s not the ideal spot for Armie, but we went as far as we wanted to go with Lopie there ... and Armie obviously was fresh,” Hyde said. “Thought the AB to Hicks, couple pitches there were close, but lost Hicks, and then Stanton got him.”
In the sixth, Hyde was forced to bring in a reliever with the bases loaded for the second time in as many innings after the Yankees added another run against Paul Fry in his season debut. This time, instead of an established bullpen piece in Armstrong, he called on Rule 5 draftee Mac Sceroler to make his major league debut.
Facing Judge, Sceroler threw seven straight fastballs, the last coming low in the zone to catch Judge for a strikeout. Second baseman Ramón Urías then tracked down a pop fly in foul territory to leave the bases loaded. Sceroler, who hadn’t pitched above High-A in the Cincinnati Reds organization, retired the next five batters before issuing consecutive walks, recovering to end his outing with his fourth strikeout.
“It’s a blessing, just to get this opportunity,” Sceroler said.
On the offensive side, No. 25 prospect Ryan McKenna made his debut after being promoted earlier Monday, playing right field with Anthony Santander getting a day off. After striking out in his first at-bat, McKenna came up in the Orioles’ best scoring chance against Montgomery, but grounded to shortstop with runners on the corners for an inning-ending fielder’s choice. He drew a walk in the eighth, Baltimore’s first of the night.
The first left-handed starter the Orioles have faced, Montgomery stifled them throughout the game. He needed only 73 pitches to get through six scoreless innings, throwing 18 balls, one fewer than Baltimore pitchers threw in the fifth inning.
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Montgomery retired the first six Orioles before Freddy Galvis singled to center, but the left-hander recovered by striking out the next three batters. Singles from Pedro Severino and Urías put runners on the corners in the fifth before Montgomery retired McKenna. Cedric Mullins continued his hot start with a single to open the sixth, but he never moved off first base as Montgomery sat down the next three Orioles.
In eight starts against Baltimore, Montgomery has a 2.51 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 43 innings.
“He was keeping us off balance by being able to locate the ball in on our right-handed hitters,” Hyde said. “We just had a tough time barrelling the ball against Montgomery.”
Tuesday, 6:35 p.m.
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