BALTIMORE — This was one Dark Knight for the Yankees.
And a trip that got off to such a promising start in Cleveland suddenly seems in danger of heading in the other direction fast.
Former Met Matt Harvey, whose best days appeared long behind him, reached into his past and threw six dominant innings at the Yankees on Monday night, helping to send them to a 4-2 loss to the Orioles in front of 6,367 at Camden Yards.
The Yankees (9-13), back in sole possession of last place in the AL East, were outhit by the Orioles 8-4. They have scored seven runs and picked up 15 hits in the last three games.
"We’re all frustrated," DJ LeMahieu said of an offense that still hasn’t gotten on track, later using the word "pressing" to describe what’s been happening at times during this first month of the season.
Harvey, who came in 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA in four starts — with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 19 1⁄3 innings — allowed one run, three hits (two coming in the sixth) and three walks in six innings. Harvey, brought in as a non-roster invitee to Orioles camp Feb. 14, struck out five in outpitching Deivi Garcia.
Garcia, 21, the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, battled command issues over four innings in his 2021 debut. He allowed two runs, three hits — including the first of Cedric Mullins’ two homers — and three walks.
The wildest inning involved neither starter.
The Yankees, trailing 4-1, rallied in the eighth against lefthander Tanner Scott, who threw six straight balls to start the inning in walking Clint Frazier and LeMahieu back-to-back. Giancarlo Stanton skied out to left, but Scott walked Aaron Judge to load the bases.
Rougned Odor, who has had several big hits since joining the Yankees on April 11, fell behind 1-and-2 before striking out on a slider out of the zone.
Righthander Cesar Valdez came on to face Gio Urshela, who laced a single to left. Frazier scored and it appeared as if LeMahieu would score easily to cut the deficit to 4-3. But Judge was thrown out at third — and the out called there, in the judgment of plate umpire Will Little, occurred before LeMahieu touched the plate, thus wiping out the run and leaving the score at 4-2.
Aaron Boone came out of the dugout to argue and was quickly ejected by first-base umpire Greg Gibson.
Boone said he was thrown out because the required — though not always enforced — 20-second time limit to challenge had expired, though it remained unexplained why he didn’t simply just immediately challenge the play, given its importance and how late in the game it occurred.
Boone said the replays he saw ultimately showed the umpires made the right decision, but he felt Gibson was overly belligerent.
"It was too quick,’’ Boone said, "and I just kind of felt like it was kind of bullying, frankly."
Still, the bigger issue on the play was Judge making the final out of the inning at third.
"Trying to play aggressive and make something happen in that situation. I have to stay at second base and keep the inning rolling," said Judge, who followed Stanton’s double with an RBI double off Harvey in the sixth to cut the Yankees’ deficit to 2-1. "Have to play a little smarter baseball there. You don’t want to end an inning like that, especially when you have a team on the ropes."
It took Garcia two pitches to put his club in a hole. Baltimore leadoff man Mullins took a strike, then rocked a 93-mph fastball out of the stadium and onto Eutaw Street in right-center. Mullins also homered in the seventh off Justin Wilson to make it 4-1.
Freddy Galvis doubled home a run in the second to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
Harvey retired 11 straight before Frazier snapped that streak with a leadoff walk to start the sixth, but LeMahieu grounded into a double play before Stanton and Judge provided the back-to-back doubles.
Among Harvey’s dominant innings were a 1-2-3, 12-pitch fourth and a 1-2-3, nine-pitch fifth in which he recorded his fifth strikeout.
Darren O’Day, who spent seven seasons with the Orioles and was pitching in a Yankees uniform at Camden Yards for the first time, could not provide a shutdown inning in the sixth. He hit Austin Hays with a pitch on the left hand and, with the hit-and-run on, Pedro Severino bled a single through the hole at second for a single that put runners at the corners. O’Day struck out Ryan Mountcastle but balked with Rio Ruiz at the plate to make it 3-1.
"When our team needs it right now the most, the hits aren’t exactly falling right now," LeMahieu said. "For me, or really for anyone."