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Yankees hope to keep clutch hits coming in finale with Orioles

Sportsnaut
Apr 16, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) watches his fifth inning two run home run against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

For one inning on Saturday, the New York Yankees changed the narrative about their difficulties with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees hope to produce more clutch hits Sunday afternoon when they visit the Baltimore Orioles for the finale of a three-game series.

New York has struggled with runners in scoring position to start the season, including 5-for-26 in the first two games of this series. The Yankees did, however, go 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position during a four-run fifth inning that followed a rain delay.

“Even when we hadn’t scored before the rain delay, it was like, ‘Man, these are the at-bats you want to have,'” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I just felt from jump street it was much better than last night, and then we were able to finally break through there, obviously.”

Josh Donaldson hit the tiebreaking homer after grounding out with the bases loaded to end the third. Anthony Rizzo started the rally with an RBI single, and Giancarlo Stanton preceded Donaldson’s first homer as a Yankee with a game-tying double.

It was Donaldson’s second game-winning hit as a Yankee. He also hit the game-winning single in the 11th inning to beat the visiting Boston Red Sox in the season opener on April 8.

“It was a good feeling,” Donaldson said. “I knew as soon as I hit it, it was gone.”

Baltimore is experiencing some of the same issues as New York in terms of getting big hits. The Orioles have scored three runs or fewer in seven of their first eight games.

After getting a bases-loaded walk to win the series opener against Aroldis Chapman in the 11th inning on Friday, Baltimore’s only runs Saturday were via a two-run homer on a 3-0 count by Cedric Mullins in the third. The Orioles were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position for the game.

“It’s just something we’re struggling with right now,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “The big hits will come. We’ve got to be patient. We’re playing close games. We’re in (games) every single night. Games can be changed with a hit here, a hit there, but happy with how competitive we are. We’re not getting the big hit to make it easy on ourselves.”

New York starting pitchers have allowed three earned runs or fewer in the first nine games, and Nestor Cortes (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will conclude the second turn through the rotation.

Cortes took a no-decision in his season debut Tuesday when he allowed three hits, struck out five and threw 72 pitches in 4 1/3 innings during a 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, marking the 12th time in his past 13 starts he allowed three earned runs or fewer.

Cortes is 1-0 with a 2.30 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against Baltimore. His last start against the Orioles was Sept. 15 in Baltimore when he pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball and recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts.

Bruce Zimmermann (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who allowed three hits in four scoreless innings in Monday’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers, starts for the Orioles.

The Baltimore native is 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA in two appearances, once as a starter, against the Yankees. Zimmermann’s start against New York came last April 27 when he took the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium.

–Field Level Media