BALTIMORE — Yankees-Orioles series of late generally have been as competitive as Reagan-Mondale. So this particular series in the Charm City, from the Yankees’ standpoint, could not have been better timed.
After absorbing their share of gut punches in the last two weeks as their bullpen suffered implosion after implosion, the Yankees got their version of baseball comfort food — a series against the Orioles. They entered Friday's doubleheader having beaten Baltimore 18 straight times overall and 17 straight times at Camden Yards.
But in Game 1, they found themselves in an extra-innings dogfight before Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier contributed RBI singles in the top of the ninth to give the Yankees a hard-fought 6-5 victory.
Somewhat predictably, the Orioles finally ended those ignominious streaks at 19 and 18 a few hours later with a 6-3 victory in the nightcap.
“We’ve pulled some games out over the last year-plus that didn’t necessarily feel like we were going to win,” Aaron Boone said. “One of those things that was obviously bound to end. [It’s] more than a little bit fluky to have that kind of run.”
The Yankees (21-17) remained tied with the Blue Jays, who split a doubleheader in Boston, for second place in the AL East, 5 1/2 games behind the Rays. The Yankees have lost 11 of their last 16 games.
In Game 2, Deivi Garcia, the 21-year-old righthander whose 5-9,163-pound frame has drawn comparisons with Dominican countryman Pedro Martinez, was not as sharp in his second big-league start as he had been in his debut against the Mets. Garcia, however, held a 3-2 lead when he left with two outs in the fifth.
Righthander Clarke Schmidt, who joins Garcia as the top pitching prospects in the organization, is being groomed as a starter but was called out of the bullpen to make his major-league debut in relief of Garcia. Schmidt came in with two runners on base and allowed three straight hits, which made Garcia’s final line much worse and turned a 3-2 lead into a 6-3 deficit.
“Yes, I was put in a tough spot, but from a compete standpoint, I have to do a better job of getting out of that,” Schmidt said. “Very blessed and thankful to make my debut, but my job is to try and help this team win games and I didn’t do that tonight.”
Garcia, who threw 95 pitches, was charged with four runs and allowed five hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.
The biggest blow off him was a two-run homer by Ryan Mountcastle in the second that made it 2-0.
“At this level, if you miss, you have to accept the consequences,” Garcia said through his interpreter.
If for no other reason, Game 1 was memorable in that, under the 2020 extra-innings rule, it featured reliever Jonathan Holder starting the ninth inning as the baserunner at second (the Yankees had lost the DH) and scoring the tiebreaking run.
“That was awesome,’’ Yankees Game 1 starter Michael King said with a smile. “It’s obviously fun for us. I’d love to be in that situation.”
The Orioles got a run in the bottom of the ninth when Renato Nunez hit into a double play with runners on first and third. Chad Green then got a flyout to end it.
Said Boone: “Did a lot of things a little unconventional today, but really good to go out and grab that first one . . . I’ve been saying, it has not been easy for us. Proud of the guys for continuing to grind away.”
Zack Britton got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth and Holder escaped a man-on-third, one-out jam in the eighth.
Gary Sanchez tied the score at 1-1 with a home run in the second. Brett Gardner had a two-run single and Mike Tauchman drew a bases-loaded walk in the third to make it 4-1, but the Orioles’ Rio Ruiz hit a two-run homer off King in the fourth.
“I was [ticked] at myself because I have that three-run lead and then I make it so much tighter and put pressure [on the bullpen],” he said.
Ben Heller served up a solo homer by Nunez in the fifth that tied it at 4-4. It was the 14th homer allowed by the bullpen in the last 13 games.