From another gut-wrenching defeat to another clutch comeback, the Yankees narrowly avoided a catastrophic loss in Baltimore on Wednesday night.
In the eighth, the Orioles took a late lead with a two-run home run off reliever Chad Green. That homer wouldn't have occurred if it wasn't for Gleyber Torres' decision on defense earlier in the frame, throwing to first base on a potential double play ball.
Down to their final three outs in the ninth, New York used speed and a bloop to retake the lead. After Tyler Wade and Torres executed a double steal with one man out, Brett Gardner dropped a pop fly in shallow left, a two-run single to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.
After three outs from closer Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the frame, New York won by that very score.
Green was summoned in the seventh inning in relief of left-hander Nestor Cortes, who was absolutely magnificent over six frames. The right-hander had struggled recently, giving up a run in each of his previous three outings, but Green was able to get out of the seventh unscathed.
The eighth inning was a different story. With two men out, Green allowed a go-ahead two-run home run off the bat of right fielder Austin Hays on an 0-2 fastball.
The two-run blast is the 14th home run that Green has allowed this season. Only one other pitcher in all of baseball has given up more long balls out of the bullpen this season.
Problem is, Green could've recorded three outs prior to that at-bat. With nobody out, after a leadoff single, speedster Cedric Mullins lined a ball to Torres at second base. After the ball clearly touched the dirt, Torres elected to throw to Anthony Rizzo at first, rather than tossing to shortstop Gio Urshela, who was waiting patiently at the second base bag.
Regardless of what transpired on defense in the eighth, it was the offense that made sure New York came away with a victory in the following frame. After a gutsy steal from Wade, swiping third as a pinch-runner while Torres took second behind him, the longest-tenured player on this roster came up in a big spot.
As rain began to pour in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Gardner flipped a game-winning, two-run single to shallow left. It was Gardner's third hit of the night, yet another quality at-bat for the 38-year-old outfielder.
In many ways, Wednesday's win was a microcosm of New York's season, a campaign full of inconsistencies, going back and forth from incompetence to execution.
New York will look to sweep the Orioles on Thursday evening before returning to the Bronx for a six-game homestand. Their postseason fate remains uncertain, but you can certainly expect more close ballgames and nail-biting finishes the rest of the way.
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