Game 4: The only thing normal about 2020 is beating the Orioles

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Make it 17 straight wins against the Orioles dating back to last season. The Yankees handled Baltimore tonight, 9-3 (box). Gerrit Cole coasted for most of the ballgame while the offensive did its thing.

It was a pretty typical Yankees-Orioles game…aside from no Yankees fans in attendance. It was a little weird to hear pumped in crowd noise in the Orioles’ favor throughout this one. Other than that, the Yankees hit a few homers, the Orioles offense struggled, and the game was essentially over within the first few innings.

What, no perfect game?

I jokingly said that anything less than a perfect game would be a disappointment for Cole in the series preview. So naturally, his perfecto was broken up immediately. Cole walked Austin Hays in a seven pitch at-bat to start the game. A couple batters later, the red hot José Iglesias (7-for-13 to start the season), doubled in Hays to cut the Yankees lead at the time to 2-1.

Cole was clearly frustrated after the inning. Can’t blame him, these are the Orioles after all. On the YES broadcast, David Cone noted that it appeared Cole was lamenting his command struggles, particularly crossfiring his fastball. We saw Gerrit have some command issues on opening day, too.

It sure seemed like some venting after the first did Cole a world of good. He cruised through the Orioles’ lineup and allowed just one baserunner until he ran out of steam with two outs in the seventh. To that point, Cole retired 19 of 20 hitters after the Iglesias double. He had also retired 14 consecutive Orioles after a third inning leadoff walk.

It looked like Cole was going to finish with a line of seven innings and one run allowed. Instead, Renato Núñez doubled and then Dwight Smith Jr. did this:

That made it 7-3. Right after, Pedro Severino then doubled down the left field line to end Cole’s night. Luis Avilán entered in relief and worked out of trouble. Cole’s final line read like this: 6 2/3 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts.

Going back to the Smith homer, You’ll notice that Cole missed his target by the width of the plate. This missed location wasn’t Cole fatiguing, either. Even as he coasted through Baltimore’s lineup, his fastball command wasn’t quite right.

Cole hooked a lot of pitches glove-side tonight (Statcast).

Overall, Cole generated only 14 whiffs (13.7 percent) and 23 foul balls (22.5 percent) on 102 pitches. That whiff number is atypically low for Gerrit, who had a stellar 37.2 percent swing-and-miss rate last season. Cole had similar issues against the Nats last week, by the way. They fouled off 18.7 percent and whiffed on 14.7 percent of Cole’s pitches. The good news is that this isn’t a deterioration of stuff issue. I mean, look at this:

Dropping Woj Bombs

It’s fair to expect a handful of homers when the Yankees play at Camden Yards. Tonight, the Bombers didn’t disappoint. O’s starter Asher Wojciechowski served up three taters. The first came right away:

That leadoff homer was LeMahieu’s first of the season. For a guy who missed much of Summer Camp because of COVID-19, he sure looks just fine. With four knocks tonight, he’s now 6-for-12 on the young season.

The Yanks dropped a couple more bombs off Wojciechowski in the third inning. First, Aaron Judge hit this towering blast:

That one had a remarkable 6.6 second hang time. Later in the frame, Aaron Hicks hit one to the sticks:

All told, the Yankees were up 5-1 by the end of the third and never looked back.

Birdwatching: Gleyber Torres

Did Gleyber Torres have a body double tonight? He uncharacteristically went hitless against the Orioles. The 23 year-old shortstop was 0-4 with a strikeout and didn’t even have one hard hit out. At least he walked in his final plate appearance in the 9th.

There’s still tomorrow for Torres to find the magic he had against the Birds last year. I’ll share it again because it’s just too absurd not to: Gleyber hit .394/.467/1.045 with 13 dingers against Baltimore last season in just 75 trips to the plate. Remarkable. Tonight, however, just wasn’t Gleyber’s night.

Leftovers

  • Rickie Ricardo, the Yankees’ radio play-by-play broadcaster for WADO, filled in for John Sterling tonight on WFAN. Fortunately, Sterling doesn’t have COVID-19 but he is under the weather. We wish him the best and look forward to having him back in the booth.
  • Gary Sánchez is off to a rough start. After tonight’s 0-for-4 and 3 strikeouts, he’s hitless through 12 at-bats this season and has gone down on strikes 8 times.
  • Slumping too: Brett Gardner took the golden sombrero tonight and is now 0-for-11 of the season with 7 Ks.
  • Brooks Kriske made his major league debut in the ninth tonight and struck out two batters in a scoreless inning. Michael Kay noted that he’s the first Yankee to ever wear #82 on tonight’s broadcast.
  • Some early game weirdness: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton reached base via catcher’s interference in the first inning. Orioles’ catcher Pedro Severino was in a ton of pain. I wouldn’t want to be hit by a bat swung by Judge or Stanton, either.

One more at Camden Yards tomorrow before the Yanks head home for a weekend series against the Red Sox. A pair of lefties, JA Happ and John Means, face off with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT.

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1 Comment

  1. Gerreddardit Cole

    I thought it was the best win of the season, Derek. It shoulda been a blowout and it was. Boone left Cole in too long, Gary needs to start sitting more in favor of Higgy and Gardy needs to be put out to pasture. Either play Tauchman or Andujar in LF or bring up Clint. At least Bozo can hit. And Higgy will at least put the bat on the ball. The fake crowd went wild after Gary made contact in his last at bat.

    But other than Gary and Gardy everything is going well. DJ could hit .300 blindfolded and will hit over .400 this season. Judge and Stanton are quite the force in the middle of the lineup. Good to see Hicksy back to form. Happ should be able to carve through this lineup like a Christmas goose tonight as the lineup hits 5 more dingers to another blowout win.

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