Going into last night's 2nd game of a 4-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, the Yankees needed to start playing as advertised. I hate it when there's lies in advertising.
Before the game, the Yankees announced they'd traded verstaile outfielder Mike Tauchman to the San Francisco Giants, for Wandy Peralta, whose performance thus far in his career suggests that he is not the lefthanded reliever that the Yankees need; and a player to be named later. Not a good trade, or so it currently appears.
Fortunately, the Yankees did something they had only done once before this season: They scored a run in the 1st inning. DJ LeMahieu led off the game with a double. Giancarlo Stanton grounded to 3rd, forcing DJLM to stay put, Aaron Judge singled, but it was too close for DJLM to score. But Gio Urshela hit a sacrifice fly to center, and DJLM was able to come home.
That early run was a big boost to Corey Kluber. He sent the Orioles down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 1st, pitched a hitless 2nd, and sent them down 1-2-3 in the 3rd.
In the top of the 4th, Kyle Higashioka hit a home run. LeMahieu and Stanton singled, Judge walked to load the bases, and Urshela singled LeMahieu home. Stanton also tried to score, but was thrown out. But it was now 4-0 Yankees.
Kluber was great in the 1st 3 innings, but he faltered in the bottom of the 4th, allowing double, groundout, RBI single. But he then got a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat. He allowed a hit in the 5th, but no runs. He was allowed to start the 6th, and allowed a leadoff walk. (Hold your cliches.) He got an out, but allowed a single.
So it was 1st and 3rd, less than 2 outs. Going against the script, Aaron Boone kept him in. (Brian Cashman must have had a fit.) But Kluber got a lineout and a groundout to end that threat. He'd pitched 6 innings, allowing only 1 run. That was hoped for by most, but predicted by few.
He was rewarded with an insurance run, as Stanton led off the top of the 7th with a home run. Clutch? Clutch enough for me. And clutch enough for Boone, who sent Kluber out to start the bottom of the7th. He allowed a single, got a strikeout and a flyout, then allowed another single. That was enough for Boone, who brought Jonathan Loaisiga in, and he got out of it.
Loaisiga allowed a leadoff walk and a 1-out single in the 8th, but got out of it. Lucas Luetge pitched a 1-2-3 9th to end it. Yankees 5, Orioles 1. WP: Kluber (1-2). No save. LP: Bruce Zimmermann (1-3).
It wasn't quite the Camden Yards slugfest we were hoping for. But if the Yankees can get these kinds of key hits, and Kluber can keep pitching like this, the Yankees won't look like a 70-92 team. (They are currently 10-13, a percentage of .435, which translates to 70-92 over 162 games.)
The series continues tonight. Domingo German starts for the Yankees, and Dean Kremer for the O's.