BALTIMORE— The celebrated Baltimore Evening Sun columnist H.L. Mencken, reviewing President Warren G. Harding’s inaugural address in March 1921, found the speech lacking.
“It is so bad,” Mencken wrote, “a sort of grandeur creeps into it.”
Nearly 100 years later, it’s as good a description as any for the 2019 Baltimore Orioles.
They don’t hit, throw, field, run or pitch — they really, really don’t pitch — with any degree of sustained competence, and the Yankees have feasted on the horrible outfit two months into the season.
That continued Wednesday night as, once again flexing their considerable muscle early, the Yankees rode home runs by Thairo Estrada, DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres to a big lead early and hung on for a 7-5 victory in front of 17,849 at Camden Yards.
The Yankees (31-17), winners in 23 of their last 30 games, stayed two games ahead of the Rays in the AL East.
The Yankees homered five times — two coming from Torres, who has 10 in 11 games vs. Baltimore this season — but the night wasn’t all balloons and confetti. CC Sabathia has been experiencing right knee pain his last few starts, including Wednesday night. It has been an issue since at least 2014 and he likely is headed for the injured list.
“It’s like a shooting pain goes through every time when I land,” said Sabathia, who will head back to New York Thursday to get a cortisone shot. “It makes it hard to finish my pitches.”
Sabathia allowed five runs (four earned) and six hits in five innings, though the Yankees’ never-ending assault on Orioles pitching gave him enough cushion.
Torres has four multi-homer games this season, all of which have come against the Orioles (15-34), who have lost 12 of 14. Torres has 12 homers overall.
“The ballpark, I think, is a ballpark for hitters,” said Torres, who came in hitting .474 with a 1.730 OPS against the Orioles in 2019. “I just see the ball really well. I feel comfortable and try to do my job.”
The Yankees, 9-2 against the O’s in 2019, have won 11 straight at Camden Yards dating to last season. They have 25 home runs in six games at Camden Yards and 34 home runs in 11 games against the Orioles this season.
“It’s something that as a club we do, we’re going to hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Aaron Boone said.
Gary Sanchez, who entered the game hitting .308 with a 1.280 OPS with eight homers in nine games against the Orioles in 2019, also homered.
The Yankees entered the night hitting .294 with a .968 OPS in 10 games against the Orioles this season, having hit 29 homers off their pitching staff, which had allowed 100 coming in. By night’s end, those numbers were 34 and 105, respectively.
“These guys have been swinging the bats, playing great defense, so I felt pretty good about my chances today,” said Sabathia, who improved to 3-1 and picked up career win No. 249.
The 38-year-old had a 5-0 lead through 2 ½ innings as LeMahieu and Estrada hit two-run homers in the second inning and Torres’ first blast, in the third, made it 5-0.
Baltimore moved within 7-5 on Renato Nunez’s two-run homer in the fifth and it took Brett Gardner, who doubled three times, throwing out Pedro Severino at the plate to end the inning to keep it there.
Tommy Kahnle struck out two in a scoreless sixth, Adam Ottavino and Chad Green worked scoreless seventh and eighth innings, and Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances.
“There’s going to be games where we take advantage of some mistakes,” Boone said, speaking again of the offense. “It’s one of the ways we score runs. Obviously, you’re not going to be able to do that all the time.”
Just most of the time against Baltimore.