Down to their final strike with the tying run on third base and their 100th loss looming, the Orioles enjoyed a stroke of fortune that usually only their opponents receive — a wild pitch to tie the game.
The Orioles were trailing 2-1 before pinch-runner Kelvin Gutiérrez scored to tie the game and send it to extra-innings, setting up a walk-off single by Austin Hays in the 10th to give them a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees Thursday before 20,164 fans who waited through the rain for a folk-rock concert from the Avett Brothers and an Orioles comeback.
“Well, we haven’t caught a ton of breaks,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I feel like we got one tonight. ... Whether it’s been balls landing on the wrong side of the chalk, flares falling in, those types of things have happened to us a lot this year where we’ve lost some games where we felt like we had an opportunity to win if we had a little bit better luck. Tonight, we caught a break there with the wild pitch — and I thought we capitalized on it.”
DJ Stewart singled with one out in the ninth before reliever Clay Holmes got wild. He threw a pitch over catcher Gary Sánchez’s head to put the pinch-running Gutiérrez on third, and Pat Valaika advanced the runner with a chopper to the left side that marked the second out. Catcher Austin Wynns was down to his last strike when Holmes threw it to the backstop again, with Gutiérrez narrowly beating the throw home.
Cole Sulser pitched a scoreless 10th to give him two spotless innings of relief before, with a runner on second base, Richie Martin laid down a perfect bunt down the third-base line to reach and push Jahmai Jones to third.
“I don’t think anybody realizes how hard a bunt that is,” Hyde said. “You gotta angle it right at the third baseman, you gotta get an early bounce, allow Jam to get an early easy read, but you can’t be in-between. You can’t be back at the pitcher, you can’t be in that kind of in-between area because [first baseman Anthony Rizzo] is going to be on top of it, so huge play and a great bunt.”
The Yankees automatically walked Cedric Mullins to load the bases before Ryan Mountcastle struck out to bring Hays to the plate. Hays chopped a 3-1 pitch from Wandy Peralta over the thrown-in Yankees infield to snap a five-game losing streak for the Orioles (47-99), who at least temporarily avoided the ignominy of being the first team to 100 losses this season.
It came in a game where a pitching staff that’s been beleaguered of late kept things close.
Right-hander Chris Ellis looked destined for a short outing when his pitch count climbed quickly in the first and second innings. The impressive waiver claim allowed a home run to Joey Gallo in the second and a run-scoring double by Gio Urshella later that inning but kept his pitch count down in the middle frames to pitch into the fifth.
He allowed seven Yankees to reach — four on walks and three on hits — but only two scored, bringing his ERA with the Orioles to 2.82.
Dillon Tate pitched two scoreless innings of relief, Conner Greene had a clean eighth inning, and Sulser had a scoreless ninth to set the stage for a comeback.
“I was really, really happy with how our bullpen threw,” Hyde said. “Sulser was amazing. I loved the way Dillon Tate threw the baseball tonight. Conner Greene was outstanding. [Fernando] Abad gave up a long fly ball that made everybody a little bit nervous. But to hold that lineup to [two runs] through 10 innings, you’re doing something special.”
Mountcastle sets rookie home run record
The Orioles had five hits and hadn’t scored when Mountcastle led off the sixth inning with his 29th home run of the season, passing Cal Ripken Jr. for the most by a rookie in club history.
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“It’s pretty crazy,” Mountcastle said. “I would have never thought that I would have done that, to be honest. It means a lot.”
Mountcastle said his family had a lot of Orioles fans, and Ripken was all of their favorite players.
“I knew a lot about him,” he said. “I knew he was a great player, a great shortstop here. It’s pretty crazy, just to be in the same company as him. It’s really cool.”
Mountcastle’s 29 home runs also tie him for the team lead with Mullins.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment for a young player,” Hyde said. “Ryan has had a special season, a great rookie year.”
Strikeouts pile up
Like Yankees starter Nestor Cortes Jr. a night earlier, left-hander Jordan Montgomery set a career-high in strikeouts for the Yankees by punching out 12 batters. The Orioles struck out 45 times in the three-game series against the Yankees, the second-most in a three-game series in franchise history. They struck out 44 times April 5-7 against the Yankees. The franchise record is 52 during a three-game sweep by the Houston Astros in May 2016.
Around the horn
Before Thursday’s game, the Orioles claimed right-hander Brooks Kriske off waivers from the New York Yankees and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk, transferring right-hander Jorge López to the 60-day injured list to make a roster spot. After the game, they optioned rookie infielder Jahmai Jones to Norfolk. ... Designated hitter Trey Mancini (oblique) and catcher Pedro Severino (groin) were both feeling better Thursday, Hyde said, but neither was in the starting lineup for the second straight game after leaving Tuesday’s loss with injury. … Left-handers Keegan Akin, Zac Lowther, and Alexander Wells will start the three-game series beginning Friday against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.