The Orioles ended their 12-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, with right fielder Anthony Santander’s throw home in the bottom of the 11th inning catching the potential tying run and giving Baltimore a 4-3 victory.
The win keeps the Orioles (4-2) from going into Thursday’s home opener on the heels of what would’ve otherwise been a three-game sweep. Santander’s outfield assist prevented New York from erasing a one-run lead for the third time in the late innings, with Chance Sisco’s pinch-hit RBI single in the top of the 11th holding up as the winning hit.
“He hit the ball to the right guy,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
Watching from the clubhouse, left-hander John Means, who earlier in the night became the first Oriole with six straight starts allowing one run or fewer since Hall of Famer Jim Palmer in 1978, said he began to celebrate as the play developed.
“I was going nuts,” Means said. “I knew they were sending him, and I just had a feeling that he was going to throw it on the money, and he did.”
An inning earlier, Santander scored the go-ahead run on an error by Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres after automatically beginning the frame at second base, but Kyle Higashioka flipped a game-tying single into right off Orioles closer César Valdez to score New York’s automatic runner and even the score once again in the bottom half.
Behind fourth-inning home runs from Cedric Mullins and Santander and an effective, if traffic-filled, start from Means, the Orioles took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning. Dillon Tate, Tanner Scott and Shawn Armstrong combined for nine of the 13 outs Hyde asked from his bullpen when he pulled Means after 4 ⅔ innings, but with two outs in the eighth, left fielder Ryan Mountcastle couldn’t handle a line drive from Gary Sánchez, putting the tying run on base.
Gio Urshela followed by doubling on an 0-2 pitch from Armstrong, with pinch-runner Mike Tauchman scoring narrowly ahead of Baltimore’s relay to tie the game.
Hyde said he wanted to watch a replay for commenting specifically on Mountcastle’s play, but he defended a player who only recently began to man left field full time.
“Ryan’s going to make some mistakes in left field,” Hyde said. “He’s played there for a month. He did a nice job in left field last year. He’s continuing to grow, and he’s continuing to learn ballparks and understand how to play the outfield. It’s not a finished product yet by any means. He’s going to make mistakes, and that’s OK, we’re going to live with them because we believe in the player.”
The victory was the Orioles’ first at Yankee Stadium since March 31, 2019, a series-clinching win amid their opening road trip. They’ll enter Camden Yards on Thursday the same way they did in 2019: coming off a 4-2 road trip.
Busy on the basepaths
Far less crisp than he was in twirling seven one-hit innings Opening Day in Boston, Means limited damage while throwing 93 pitches over 4 ⅔ innings. The Yankees (3-3) managed at least two base runners against him in four of his five innings, but the only time they made it count was when they got a third, with three third-inning singles producing a run. But Means got slugger Giancarlo Stanton to ground into a double play to limit the damage beyond that.
With the help of Tate stranding the two runners he inherited with two outs in the fifth, that was the only run Means allowed. In his past six starts, Means has struck out 39 batters in 35 ⅓ innings while posting a WHIP of 0.708 and 1.27 ERA.
“I thought Johnny battled,” Hyde said. I didn’t think he had his best stuff. I didn’t think he had the breaking balls that he had in Boston. The pitch count was up, but he showed the kind of competitor he is without his best stuff, being able to grind through five innings only giving up a run to a really, really good lineup.”
Despite the blown leads behind Means, Hyde was impressed with the Orioles’ bullpen. Scott shined in particular. After entering with the tying run on second and two outs in the sixth, he struck out Brett Gardner on three pitches, the last coming in at 99.7 mph, per Statcast. He added two more strikeouts in a scoreless seventh.
“Tanner coming in, just completely shutting the door, he’s a completely new pitcher,” Means said. “He’s got the same stuff, but the command he has now makes him almost unhittable.”
After Urshela’s game-tying hit in the eighth, Hyde brought in Valdez, who covered the next 2 ⅓ innings and used his signature “dead fish” changeup to induce weak contact and strike out three Yankees. Paul Fry was on the mound for Santander’s heroics and earned his sixth career save.
“Our bullpen won us that game,” Hyde said.
Mullin’ it over
Making his first start since 2019, Yankees right-hander Jameson Taillon retired the first nine Orioles in order. But his second pitch of the fourth was a changeup down the middle, and Mullins sent it out to right-center field to add a home run to his excellent road trip.
The Orioles’ center fielder will take a six-game hitting streak, .480 batting average and 1.239 OPS into Thursday’s home opener against the Boston Red Sox. In Baltimore’s season-opening sweep at Fenway Park, Mullins hit .692, closing the series with a five-hit game that included three doubles. Mullins is the first Oriole since Adam Jones in 2013 with at least 12 hits in the team’s first six games.
Mullins and Santander’s home runs gave the Orioles two in a three-batter span after hitting only one in their first five games. The man who hit it, Rio Ruiz, had a fifth-inning single Wednesday that stood as Baltimore’s last hit before Sisco’s go-ahead single. The Orioles have struck out at least 13 times in four straight games, a franchise record and one of only six such streaks in major league history.
“When you get four hits in 11 innings against the New York Yankees, you’re not usually going to win,” Hyde said. “Credit goes to our guys for battling.”
Thursday, 3:05 p.m.
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