The Adams Jones single that drove in the first Orioles run? That was a curveball. The Chris Davis home run that delivered the first big blow of the night? Also a curveball. The Ryan Flaherty home run that chased David Phelps from the game? Another curveball.
“I was thinking back and three of the curveballs accounted for seven of the runs,” Phelps said. “The home run to Davis and the one to Flaherty, they were just sitting on a tee right there for them. It’s frustrating. I felt like I was making some good pitches with my fastball, just everything else was up in the zone and they made me pay for it.”
If you’d like to get more into specifics, this was Phelps’ assessment of the pitch that Davis crushed.
“Where that pitch was, I hope he’d hit it like he did,” Phelps said. “That’s about as bad of a breaking ball as I’m going to throw, and that’s what he’s supposed to do with that kind of pitch.”
It was bad. The Orioles scored nine runs in the first three innings. The Yankees haven’t scored nine runs in a game since May 24. The Orioles finished with 11 runs. The Yankees haven’t scored more than 11 runs in their past four games combined.
In a vacuum, this gave was clearly on Phelps’ shoulders. His curveball was — obviously — pretty bad tonight, and that cost him. It seemed possible he was going to get on a little bit of a role after he stranded two runners in the first, pitched a 1-2-3 second and got a quick out in the third, but his night fell completely apart after that. And when you consider the fact this game wasn’t played in a vacuum, that it was played by a team that is struggling to score runs, it seemed like a lost cause pretty quickly.
“I don’t care what our offense is doing,” Phelps said. “You give up nine runs, it’s a big hole to dig yourself out of. The last four or five games that I’ve pitched, they’ve scored runs for me. It’s frustrating to go out there and not give them a chance to do it.”
• Ivan Nova left the building pretty quickly, but he pitched well tonight. He was certainly the bright spot, with his only blemish coming on the towering Davis home run in the sixth. Now, Joe Girardi said, he’s not sure what’s next for Nova. It’s possible he’ll start on Thursday, but that’s very much up in the air. Girardi would still like to use Nova to give all of the starters an extra day off at some point. “We’ll see how we come out these next few days,” Girardi said. “That’s kind of what I’m planning; how we come out the next few days.”
• Why Nova over Adam Warren? “If you use Warren, you’re not going to be able to start Nova anyway in the next few days,” Girardi said. “I figured I would get him back out there. It was his sixth day, so I thought that would help us. Now we have Warren, we still have our long man. I’m not sure when I’ll slot Nova in there.”
• Girardi on Phelps: “He made some mistakes with his breaking pitches. You look at the first inning; if the ball is maybe a foot to my left, the one hit to Adams, maybe he gets out of the inning. Then he hung a curveball to the next batter on a big home run. He struggled with his curveball tonight. His curveball was very good in the bullpen, but it didn’t translate.”
• Robinson Cano on whether the five-run third inning felt like a daunting task to come back from: “You’ve got to give them credit,” Cano said. “They took advantage of pitches over the plate. We got beat tonight. It’s not like we were walking guys or making errors. In a game like that, there’s nothing you can do. Just keep fighting and forget about this game. Be ready for tomorrow.”
• The Yankees have gone 12-20 since May 26. If they lose tomorrow, they’ll have their third five-game losing streak in that five-week span. “I still think these guys can get it done,” Girardi said. “I know that we have some young guys playing out there and we have some guys that have struggled the last couple years that playing out there, but I still think they can get it done. … Because I’m optimistic. That’s my nature. It is what I’ve seen. I’ve seen the work. I thought we had good at-bats tonight and swung the bats as good as we have in a while. Maybe that’s the start of something.”
• To be fair, the Yankees actually did hit some balls hard tonight. They had five doubles, including two by Brett Gardner. Every spot in the order had a hit. But still, three runs just isn’t much, especially compared to what the Orioles were able to do. Of those five doubles, only one drove in a run, and only two contributed to a run in any way.
• Phelps lost against an AL East opponent for the first time since August 27, 2012. He was undefeated in his past nine starts against the division.
• Cano continues to rake in this park. He had two more hits tonight and is hitting .364 in his career at Camden Yards.
• The Yankees were once 12 games over .500 with a one-game lead in the division. They’re now four games over .500 and in third base, trailing by five and a half games. “You don’t want to go all the way down,” Cano said. “You want to start winning games. Maybe it starts tomorrow. We win tomorrow and then we go from there. A lot of things can happen in this game.”
• Final word goes to Cano, talking about the same topic: “We’ve got a team that was closer earlier in the season. We all know one day it’s going to change and we’re going to turn around. We’ve just got to find our way now and keep fighting. Don’t let this team put our heads down or thinking about trying to figure out too much. Just go out there and keep fighting and trying to do our job with men in scoring position. Keep playing hard.”
Associated Press photos