Depleted Yankees blow early lead, drop series finale in Baltimore

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a home run in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards — but the Bombers wound up losing the series finale on May 16, 2021.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees couldn’t take advantage of a four-run first inning to clinch a series sweep and fell 10-6 to the Orioles Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. 

New York, playing without starters Giancarlo Stanton (left quad tightness), Aaron Hicks (left wrist sprain, 10-day injured list) and Gleyber Torres (COVID-19 injured list), jumped out to an early lead after back-to-back home runs in the first inning against Baltimore opener Adam Plutko. 

The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out, and after a run scored when Gio Urshela grounded into a double play, Gary Sanchez blasted a 2-1 pitch deep into the left field stands. Clint Frazier followed with a long home run to left center, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead. 

But Baltimore responded in the bottom of the first, using a two-out rally to cut the deficit in half. 

After New York starter Jordan Montgomery retired the first two batters, he walked No. 3 hitter Trey Mancini, who came around to score on Ryan Mountcastle’s double, which stayed just fair down the right field line. 

Pedro Severino followed with a ground ball single to right field that scored Mountcastle, and Maikel Franco followed with another single. But Montgomery got out of the jam by striking out Freddy Galvis, 

Bruce Zimmerman replaced Plutko after the first and, after a scoreless second, Judge smoked a 3-1 changeup into the left field seats with one out in the third. The 443-foot blast — Judge’s fourth of the series and 12th of the year — extended the Yankees’ lead to 5-2.

But the Orioles answered back in the bottom of the third, when a Mountcastle sacrifice fly plated Austin Hays, who had led off the inning with a double. Mancini, who had walked before Hays’ sacrifice fly, advanced to second on a wild pitch from Montgomery and came around to score on Franco’s RBI double to right, making the score 5-4. Baltimore tied the score on Galvis’ RBI single to left before Montgomery ended the rally and retired the side.

Yankees reliever Mike King came out of the bullpen to start the bottom of the fourth inning, but didn’t fare much better than Montgomery. 

Baltimore lead-off batter Cedric Mullins doubled with one out and came around to score on Mancini’s two-out double, which gave Baltimore a 6-5 lead. 

King settled down to get out of the inning, but Zimmerman continued to shut down the Yankee offense through the sixth inning with the lead intact. He got the first two outs in the seventh before giving way to lefty reliever Tanner Scott following a two-out single from Tyler Wade. Scott struck out DJ LeMahieu to end the inning. 

Franco’s stellar night continued in the bottom of the seventh, when he smacked a two-run home run off Yankees reliever Wandy Peralta, extending the Orioles’ lead to 8-5. Franco finished the night with three hits and three RBIs.

Luke Voit, who has struggled since returning from the IL last week, started a Yankees rally in the eighth with a single, and Judge walked, forcing the Orioles to remove Scott and bring in fellow southpaw Paul Fry to face Urshela.

Fry immediately induced Urshela to ground into a double-play and struck out Sanchez to end the inning. 

The Orioles further added to their lead in the bottom of the eighth against Yankees reliever Luis Cessa, who surrendered a two-run single to Mountcastle, who finished the game four runs batted in. The single gave the O’s a 10-5 advantage. 

César Valdez allowed the first two Yankees to reach base to start the ninth and the Yankees added a run on LeMahieu’s RBI single to make the score 10-6. But Valdes struck out Voit to end the rally and secure the victory for Baltimore. 

Zimmerman (5.2 innings pitched, two hits, one walk, one run and six strikeouts) earned the victory — his second of the season, while King (0-1) was given the loss. 

The Yankees (22-18) won the first two games of the series, defeating Baltimore 5-4 on Friday and 8-2 on Saturday before Sunday afternoon’s loss. New York will continue its 10-game road trip in Texas, where they will start a four-game series against the Rangers (18-23). 

The Orioles (17-23), will host the Tampa Bay Rays (23-19) on Tuesday, the first match of a three-game series.