It’s been that kind of year.
And, of course, when it came time to close out the bottom of the 10th inning, the Yankees trotted out former Orioles closer Zach Britton to get the save in his first appearance against his former team.
And, of course, Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb delivered another strong outing, but all it took was one bad pitch out of the 100 he threw to leave him with a familiar result.
He allowed a two-run homer in the fourth inning that was all it took to turn another solid start into another no-decision.
The Orioles (37-91) would end up losing the opener of a four-game series before an announced crowd of 27,150 when Neil Walker and Luke Voit hit long home runs off former Yankees prospect Cody Carroll (0-2) in the top of the 10th inning.
That would have been enough inter-team intrigue, but there was still a half inning to go and Britton warming up in the bullpen. He gave up a two-out solo home run to Chris Davis, but finished off his old team to record his first save as a Yankee.
Cobb was long gone by then, of course. He ended up improving his team-leading total of quality starts (six-plus innings, three earned runs or fewer) to 14, for all the good it did him. He walked off the mound with the same 4-15 record he arrived with, but continued to chip away at an ERA (5.00) which started out in double-digits in April.
It was the fifth start in a row — all in August — in which he pitched at least six innings and allowed no more than two runs. His ERA for the month is 1.80.
“Cobb was good,’’ manager Buck Showalter said. “I thought he handled himself well again. He had a little blister he was dealing with that he worked through and he had an extra day’s rest, too, which was good.”
Though he wasn’t as efficient as in his complete-game victory at the Cleveland Indians last weekend, Cobb allowed just three hits, walked three and struck out six. He worked out of a jam in the first inning after an error by center fielder Cedric Mullins put runners at second and third with two outs, then did not give up another hit until Walker lined a one-out single to center in the fourth.
Two batters later, Voit jumped on an 0-1 curveball and drove it out to left-center field for his second home run of the year. He hit his first for the St. Louis Cardinals, who traded him to the Yankees on July 29. His third homer, and second of the night, came in the 10th after Walker had given the Yankees the lead.
“Today I felt a little bit off,” Cobb said, “but being off now compared to where I was earlier — two different kinds of descriptions. The ability to still be able to go out and compete when you don’t have your best stuff shows that I’m getting closer to where I want to be. Even when you have days when you don’t feel your stuff was as [good] as you’d like it, you can still find a way to get outs.”
The Orioles jumped in front in the first inning on a bases-loaded two-run single by Davis. But Yankees starter CC Sabathia settled down and dominated the Orioles for the next 5 2/3 innings. He gave up just two more hits and struck out eight over that span, but would also end up with quality start and a no-decision.
Davis had a terrific game. He drove in three of the Orioles’ five runs with two singles and the home run, and made several nice defensive plays at first base.
Second baseman Jonathan Villar put the Orioles back on top in the seventh inning with a two-out, two-run homer off Yankees reliever David Robertson. It was Villar’s fourth homer since he was traded to the Orioles, but that lead would not hold up either.
The Yankees sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the eighth and the Orioles were fortunate they allowed the minimum number of runs possible for that number of hitters. Gleyber Torres drove home both runs with a bases-loaded single to right and the Yankees loaded the bases again before Mychal Givens worked out of trouble.
“We had a leadoff walk there at 4-2 in the eighth, I thought that really hurt us,” Showalter said. “We had four broken-bat singles in that inning, too. I think we broke five bats that inning, so it’s one of those things where you make good pitches and sometimes you don’t get rewarded for them."
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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