The Orioles might still be above the New York Yankees in the American League East standings, but they can't seem to solve the Bronx Bombers head-to-head at Camden Yards.
The Orioles dropped an 8-5 decision to the Yankees on Monday night under dreary skies and steady showers, their fourth loss to New York this year at Camden Yards. In a game riddled with costly walks and an untimely fielding error, the battle-tested Yankees made the Orioles pay for their miscues.
“If you make defensive mistakes against any club at this level, it challenges you if you do it consistently,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You can get by with it some nights. Whether it's the Yankees or Tampa, it's the same result."
With the loss, which prevents the Orioles (22-14) from having a winning record on this 10-game homestand, the Orioles (22-14) fell into a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East.
Severna Park native and Mount St. Joseph graduate Mark Teixeira blasted a two-run homer onto the flag court in right field off reliever Luis Ayala in the seventh inning that proved to be the difference in front of a rain-soaked, announced crowd of 16,492.
But it's the Orioles' starting pitching — one of the club's biggest strengths during its early-season surge — that has suddenly struggled on this homestand. In the eight home games, Orioles starters are 2-4 with a 6.95 ERA and have allowed 59 hits and issued 17 walks in 451/3 innings. It was the third straight game in which an Orioles starter didn't last at least six innings.
"I'm pretty (angry) at that, obviously for a pen that's been doing so well for us all year,” starter Jason Hammel said of lasting just five-plus innings. “They were short [Sunday] . The last thing I wanted to do was get in the pen [Monday] . (It's) very disappointing. We'll get them next time."
Going into the homestand, the Orioles' overall ERA was 2.78, best in the American League, but after Monday's game, it's 3.55.
Hammel, making his first start since he missed Thursday's start with right knee soreness, had his rockiest outing of the season, allowing five runs — four earned — on seven hits, all season highs. Hammel, who came into the game attempting to be the first pitcher to allow two or fewer runs in his first seven starts for the Orioles, left the game in the top of the sixth leading 5-3 with the bases loaded and no outs.
But the Yankees (20-15) immediately scored twice on Chris Davis' fielding error off the bat of Raul Ibanez, a grounder that bounced off Davis' glove and into right field to tie the game at 5.
“It's a tough play,” Ayala said. “It's basically if the field is not in good condition, you can't really blame too much of the infielders. It's a tough play. Coming in that situation, my job is to throw strikes and try to get ground balls, quick outs. That's what I was trying to do, make quality pitches.”
The error was costly — had Davis come up with the ball, he had the chance to turn a double play — and was the Orioles' 35th of the year, most in the AL and second-most in the major leagues.
“It's frustrating any time you make mistakes, especially ones you can really capitalize on,” Davis said. “When (pitchers) are getting ground balls, you know we've got to make those plays so it's obviously frustrating whenever you're making mental and physical errors.
“It was hit hard. But it's still a play that's got to be made. ”
Of the Orioles' errors, 18 of them have come from five players at the corner infield positions. Also, the Orioles have made at least one error in 21 games this season — 10 AL teams haven't made 21 errors overall.
Ayala, who relieved Hammel, stranded the bases loaded with one out by striking out leadoff hitter Derek Jeter and getting Curtis Granderson to fly out to right.
With the Orioles trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, rookie left fielder Xavier Avery drove in his first career major league run with a triple into the right-field corner off Yankees starter Ivan Nova, scoring Robert Andino from first and tying the game.
In the next Orioles at bat, shortstopJ.J. Hardy hit an 87 mph slider from Nova into the left-field stands for his ninth homer of the season, a two-run blast that gave the Orioles a 5-3 lead.
Nova, who was hit on the right ankle by a comebacker by Nick Markakis in the first, limped off the field with a contusion and sprain to his right ankle and foot with one out in the sixth. The Orioles have battered Nova for 10 runs in two starts over 111/3 innings this season.
“Honestly, we should have won the ballgame,” Hammel said. “I let them back into the game twice. (We had a) 2-0 lead and the guys come back and get me some runs to get me ahead again, and I gave them right back. “