As balls continue to go from Orioles pitchers’ hands to the middle of the strike zone, from opposing hitters’ bats to over ballparks’ fences, manager Brandon Hyde is starting to be at a loss for words.
A day after reaching 100 home runs allowed, the Orioles gave up five more in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the New York Yankees, their eighth straight defeat to their American League East foe. Baltimore has allowed at least five home runs seven times, an AL record, and have done so in 49 games.
“Those balls are right down the middle,” Hyde said, “so I don’t know what to say, really.”
Gleyber Torres and Gary Sánchez hit three homers between them to continue their assault of Baltimore’s arms. Right-hander Dan Straily’s troubles at Camden Yards came in the form of six runs on four home runs in his four innings. He has a 12.09 ERA at the Orioles’ home ballpark.
“I feel like the whole thing comes down to a couple of hung sliders, and that’s what’s really frustrating is that’s been my pitch for years and years, being able to command it, being able to manipulate it,” Straily said. “It just wasn’t there. I know the issue, and I just need to correct it. That’s the frustrating thing. I probably executed more pitches tonight than I have in a while, maybe this whole season, executing more pitches, but the ones I didn’t execute, we paid for.”
With solo shots off Straily in the third and Gabriel Ynoa in the fifth, Torres had his fourth multihomer effort against the Orioles (15-34) this season and sixth of his two-year career. In 2019, Torres is hitting .465/.531/1.233 with 10 home runs against Baltimore, which dropped percentage points below the Miami Marlins to have baseball’s worst record, and .250/.278/.353 with two home runs against everybody else.
“There’s definitely a pitching plan; it’s definitely not throw the ball in the middle part of the plate, and we just continue to do it, and when you don’t do it, we get ’em out,” Hyde said. “Gleyber’s got two homers besides facing the Orioles and hitting like .220 or something [against other teams], so major league pitchers are pitching to him. Gleyber’s a good player and he did a really nice piece of hitting on Ynoa, that ball the other way. You tip your hat on something like that, but the other stuff, that’s inexcusable at this level.”
Torres and Sánchez have been frequent suppliers of those blasts, becoming the 10th teammates with at least nine home runs against a single opponent in the same season and the fifth pair of Yankees to do so. If Sánchez hits another home run off an Orioles pitcher at some point in the team’s eight remaining meetings, he and Torres would become only the second duo with double-digit home runs against a team. The other was Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig against the Boston Red Sox in 1927.
In their first six decades of existence, the Orioles allowed nine home runs in a season to only three players. They have now done so in each of the past four seasons, with Sánchez and Torres joining teammate Aaron Judge and Boston’s Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez in providing the dubious streak.
Torres’ 10th home run against the Orioles matched Trey Mancini for the most in Orioles games this season, while Torres and Sánchez have seven homers each at Camden Yards, more than any of the Orioles’ batters.
Martin hits first home run of career, first single of May
On Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia’s first pitch of the fifth inning, an 86.6 mph sinker down and away, Orioles rookie shortstop Richie Martin hit his first career home run. Although he was pleased to send a ball over the fence, Martin was not particularly impressed that the achievement came against a pitcher in Sabathia who is viewed as a borderline Hall of Fame candidate.
“A home run’s a home run,” Martin said. “It doesn’t really mean much to me.”
Martin has struggled offensively while producing defensively since the Orioles took him with the first pick of the Rule 5 draft, with Hyde regularly sitting him against right-handers to give him favorable matchups. Hyde has seen progress and was seemingly more excited about the home run than Martin.
“A great moment,” Hyde said. “First big league home run, that’s a special deal already, and then you do it off somebody that’s had a lot of success for a lot of years, so we’re all happy for Richie. I thought everybody was pumped up for him.”
Martin’s swing sparked a rally Wednesday, as Renato Núñez homered off Sabathia later in the frame to draw the Orioles within two runs. In his next at-bat, Martin blooped a single into short right field. It was his first single since April 28; between, he went 5-for-34 with three doubles, a triple, the home runs and 14 strikeouts. The hit came on a 95.7 mph fastball from right-hander Tommy Kahnle.
“That’s a great sign,” Hyde said. “Him being able to be on time with a good fastball, that was awesome to see.”
Hyde’s challenge can’t overturn play at plate
The Orioles’ fifth-inning rally almost brought them closer to a comeback.
After sending a potential home run a few feet foul, Pedro Severino doubled, bringing Joey Rickard to the plate as the potential tying run. Rickard lined Sabathia’s first pitch to him up the middle, and Severino tested center fielder Brett Gardner’s arm. He was unsuccessful in doing so and was thrown out at the plate, but Hyde hurried out to challenge the play, claiming that Sánchez, the Yankees catcher, violated the home-plate collision rule. After a review, the call was upheld, dropping the Orioles to 4-for-11 on challenges.
Rickard’s single came on what became Sabathia’s last pitch, and the Yankees bullpen pitched four shutout innings for the victory, though the Orioles brought the tying run to the plate in each of those innings.