Much of the Orioles’ rebuild was spent out of the national spotlight, though that’s likely where they preferred their frequent defeats, the all-too-common games where the opposing team put them in an insurmountable hole.
On Sunday, they returned the favor to one of the frequent deliverers of those challenging nights, beating the New York Yankees, 9-3, in front of a national audience on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.” The last time Camden Yards hosted a “Sunday Night Baseball” was on Aug. 26, 2018, one of the many defeats in a four-year span in which they lost 36 more games than any other organization.
But Baltimore (64-41) has come out the other side as one of baseball’s best teams. By winning Sunday, the Orioles claimed the season series against the Yankees for the first time since 2016, the season of their most recent playoff berth. They’re positioned to end that drought, leading the Tampa Bay Rays by 1 1/2 games in the American League East.
Manager Brandon Hyde treated the game as dicier than the score indicated it was, but the Orioles led comfortably throughout thanks to a seven-run first inning. Baltimore’s first six batters reached against Yankees right-hander Luis Severino, who they had likewise pummeled in a start earlier this month in New York.
After singles by Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, doubles from Anthony Santander and Ryan O’Hearn, and a walk from Austin Hays, Adam Frazier highlighted the frame with a three-run home run. Batting leadoff for the second straight game, Rutschman came back around for a second time and singled again, driving in Jordan Westburg for the frame’s final run. It was the third time this season the Orioles scored seven runs in an inning against the Yankees (55-50).
Baltimore starter Dean Kremer struck out two in a perfect top of the first, but struggled to work efficiently once provided the large lead. He left the bases loaded in the second and surrendered two deep flyballs to open the third, the first from Jake Bauers landing in the Orioles’ bullpen for a home run and the second hitting the top of Camden Yards’ deep left field wall for a double by Gleyber Torres. Kremer recovered to strike out New York’s next three batters, but Bauers’ double off Kremer in the fourth plated another run.
The Orioles answered with RBI doubles by Henderson and O’Hearn, chasing Severino and leaving him with 16 earned runs allowed and 18 outs recorded across two starts against them this month. But Kremer did not outlast him by much. On his 90th pitch, Giancarlo Stanton singled to center, eventually coming home with Mike Baumann on the mound to leave Kremer with three runs surrendered over four-plus innings.
Baltimore’s bullpen was otherwise spotless over its five innings of work. After an early defensive substitution from Hyde — taking out second baseman Jordan Westburg as part of a series of moves to get Ryan McKenna in center — Shintaro Fujinami, the Orioles’ lone trade acquisition thus far ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, worked two scoreless innings, giving him 4 2/3 scoreless frames and seven strikeouts in his past three outings, and Danny Coulombe followed with a shutout eighth.
Although the Orioles led by six runs throughout, All-Star setup man Yennier Cano warmed up in the bullpen three times, then entered for the ninth. Striking out the side, Cano gave the Orioles’ staff a season-high 18 strikeouts and finished off the victory in front of an announced crowd of 37,429, with the weekend series representing Baltimore’s best draw for a three-game series since July 2016.
This story will be updated.