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If first impressions matter, the Yankees had to like what they saw from Jameson Taillon in his debut in pinstripes on Wednesday night against the Orioles.
Taillon looked every bit the front-end starter the Yankees envisioned him to be when they traded for him back in January. Unfortunately for him, the Yankee lineup looked nothing like the one that put up 14 runs against the Orioles in the first two games of the series and a late mistake doomed the Yankees in a 4-3 loss to the Orioles in 11 innings. The loss snapped the Bombers’ 13-game Stadium winning streak against Baltimore.
Gleyber Torres made a throwing error in the 10th inning that gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. Sanchez took his time fielding a ball hit by catcher Pedro Severino and then rushed the throw. The one-hopper was too much for inexperienced first baseman Jay Bruce to handle and the ball skidded by him, allowing Anthony Santander to score from third. Santander started the inning at second under MLB’s extra-innings rule.
The Yankees, with a runner on second to start the bottom of the 10th, tied the score when Kyle Higashioka lined an RBI single to right.
But Baltimore went up for good an inning later when pinch-hitter Chance Sisco blooped a single to left that drove in the go-ahead run.
The game ended on a play at the plate when D.J. LeMahieu lifted a ball to right with two outs and Gio Urshela on third. Santander fired home in plenty of time to nail Urshela, who dove toward the plate and took a painful tag to the face.
The Yankees trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth when Gary Sanchez ripped a line drive to left field that sailed beyond the reach of Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle. Sanchez assumed the ball would be caught and started to slow jog toward first, where he had to stop even though the ball bounced off the wall.
Aaron Boone lifted Sanchez for pinch-runner Mike Tauchman, a no-brainer move that helped the Yankees tie the game when Gio Urshela followed with a double to the left-field gap.
The Orioles pulled off a perfect relay that started when Mountcastle cut the ball off before it reached the warning track. Tauchman, whose speed is one of the reasons he is on the roster, burned around the basepaths as the crowd roared in anticipation of a play at the plate.
Tauchman dove headfirst into home, just beating the tag of catcher Pedro Severino and tying the score at 2.
Taillon hadn’t appeared in a Major League game since May 1, 2019. Since then he’s undergone two surgeries, including Tommy John surgery, and was traded from the Pirates to the Yankees.
On Tuesday, he spoke about not looking back on the road he took to Yankee Stadium, which also included him fighting testicular cancer in 2017 when he was with the Pirates. He is choosing, instead, to look forward.
“I do feel like there’s a lot ahead of me,” he said. “For being a 29-year old, I’ve had injuries but I do feel like I’ve got a lot of great innings ahead, and I feel like outside of the elbow, I feel like my arm’s got a ton left to give.”
Taillon cruised through the first three innings, holding the Orioles hitless.
The Yankees broke through with the first run of the game in the third, when Brett Gardner and LeMahieu started the inning with back-to-back singles. Then with one out, Aaron Hicks roped a single up the middle off Baltimore starter John Means.
Gardner raced around third to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. But with runners on first and second, Giancarlo Stanton followed by bouncing into a 5-4-3 double play that ended the inning.
In the fourth, Taillon left a pitch up in the zone to Orioles leadoff hitter Cedric Mullins, who crushed it deep into the right field bleachers.
An out later, Taillon threw a fastball that Santander hit over the 385-foot sign and into the Baltimore bullpen in right.
Taillon could be heard cursing himself as the ball sailed overhead and gave the O’s a 2-1 lead.
Taillon went into the fifth having thrown 63 pitches, and he was yanked after blowing a fastball by Freddie Galvas for the second out of the inning.
As Taillon turned the ball over to Boone, the limited Stadium crowd gave him a nice hand. Just before Taillon reached the dugout, where his cheering teammates were waiting, he pounded his fist into his glove and glanced into the stands to take it all in.
Taillon pitched 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter. The last five outs he recorded came on Ks.
The Yankees had something brewing in the seventh when LeMahieu led off with a single. After Torres lined out sharply to right, Hicks worked his way into a 3-1 count against Orioles lefty reliver Tanner Scott.
Scott appeared to miss the outside corner with his next pitch and Hicks started making his way to first only to hear the home plate umpire call a strike. As the Stadium crowd hummed in frustration, Hicks chased the next pitch out of the strike zone to the second out.
Scott, a fire-balling lefty with a nasty slider, then struck out Stanton to end the inning.