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Yankees chase Keegan Akin early in 10-1 victory to sweep doubleheader vs. Orioles

The Orioles entered Friday’s doubleheader with a chance to surpass the New York Yankees and take over the American League’s final playoff spot. They left it looking like the team New York spent much of 2019 beating down.

Rookie left-hander Keegan Akin failed to get out of the first inning in a 10-1 loss to the Yankees as the Orioles were swept in the two games at Yankee Stadium. His 39 pitches produced only two outs, with Masahiro Tanaka’s five one-run innings and Luke Voit’s pair of three-run home runs dropping Baltimore to 3 1/2 games behind New York for the American League’s final playoff spot.

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“Everyone in that locker room knows the significance of this series,” outfielder DJ Stewart said. “It’s a great opportunity for us, and we just didn’t come out and execute today.”

Having held the Yankees scoreless across 5 1/3 innings in his previous start, Akin took the mound with a 1-0 lead after Stewart homered for the sixth time in six games. But it was a short-lived advantage for the Orioles (20-24).

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DJ LeMahieu walked and Voit singled to put two on with no outs for Aaron Hicks, who lofted a fly ball to left. LeMahieu aggressively broke for third, and Rio Ruiz couldn’t corral Ryan Mountcastle’s throw from left to get the out. Voit moved to second on the play.

The Orioles infield stayed back with Clint Frazier up, but when he hit a hard grounder to short, José Iglesias attempted to nab LeMahieu at home. The throw bounced early, and catcher Chance Sisco couldn’t field it cleanly, scoring LeMahieu and tying the game.

Gleyber Torres, who plagued Orioles pitching in 2019, followed with an RBI single on the eighth pitch of his at-bat, and center fielder Cedric Mullins' throw home missed the Orioles' cutoff man, allowing both runners to advance. Like Torres, Miguel Andújar fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches from Akin before bringing home two runs with a double into left field.

“I didn’t mix my pitches that well right off the start,” Akin said. “I kind of just stuck with the fastball and trusted that. Obviously, they adjusted to that.”

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Not wanting to tax a pitcher who will get continued opportunities in the Orioles' rotation in the season’s final weeks, Hyde ended Akin’s outing after he struck out Gary Sánchez for the second out of the first.

“Wasn’t our best inning defensively,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Keegan’s pitch count was up there. I just couldn’t let him go past 40 pitches in an inning, young guy that we care about.”

Travis Lakins Sr. stabilized the game with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, but Asher Wojciechowski surrendered three-run homers to Voit in both the fourth and the fifth to break the game open.

Pair of aces

After Yankees ace Gerrit Cole pitched a seven-inning shutout in the day’s first game, a 6-0 victory, Tanaka made his best effort to match him.

Including Stewart’s solo shot, four of the first six Orioles reached against Tanaka, with a Ruiz single preceding a 91 mph fastball that drilled Renato Núñez in the left hand to put two on with no outs in the second inning. From there, though, Tanaka retired the next 12 Orioles consecutively to end his outing.

Two of those outs came via Chris Davis, who started for the first time since going on the injured list last month. Davis finished the game 0-for-3.

A two-out double from Stewart off Luis Cessa in the sixth ending the Orioles' string of consecutive outs. Núñez was pinch-hit for in the seventh and will undergo what Hyde called “precautionary X-rays” on his hand, though Hyde said the club’s medical staff believes the injury isn’t serious.

Fulmer makes O’s debut

Right-hander Carson Fulmer, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, got the final four outs for the Orioles in his team debut.

Entering after Voit’s second homer, Fulmer struck out Hicks on an 87 mph changeup to end the fifth. He pitched a perfect sixth to complete his first outing since Aug. 16 with the Detroit Tigers.

“I was really impressed," Hyde said. "He’s got a really live fastball, and the changeup’s excellent. Thought he did a really nice job.”

Williams designated

With Game 1 starter Alex Cobb activated off the IL as the 29th man for the doubleheader, the Orioles had to make a corresponding move after the two games to get their roster back to the 28-player limit.

They designated outfielder Mason Williams for assignment for the second time in 11 days. Williams previously cleared waivers and was outrighted to Baltimore’s alternate site before being added to the 40-man roster again after Anthony Santander was put on the IL with an oblique injury. Williams is 2-for-18 this year with nine strikeouts.

The Orioles have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

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