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Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Orioles 5, Yankees 4

By Wallace Matthews

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have now played three series in 2014, and lost two of them.

Their 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday also gave them a sub-.500 record (4-5) over their first nine games for the first time since 2008. In his Yankee Stadium debut, Masahiro Tanaka had six good innings and one horrendous one, the second, which was enough to put the Yankees in a hole they never completely climbed out of.

Offensively, only Carlos Beltran had a night to remember (3-for-3 with a HR, double and single), and Shawn Kelley had an inning to forget.

But it's not all bad news: The Boston Red Sox, also 4-5, come in to spend the weekend in the Bronx.

Put that coffee down: Coffee's for closers, and Wednesday night, Shawn Kelley couldn't close or at least keep the game tied for the Yankees to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Coming in to pitch the ninth of a 3-3 tie because of the injury to David Robertson, Kelley gave up a leadoff double to Ryan Flaherty, followed by three straight singles and a sacrifice fly to give Baltimore a two-run lead. Kelley pitched a spotless ninth to earn his first career save on Opening Day but took the loss tonight.

Strong finish: Tanaka needed 58 pitches to get through the first three innings but somehow pulled it together to last seven, striking out Yankee killer Delmon Young -- his 10th K of the game -- on his 101st pitch to end the seventh. As per his reputation, Tanaka got stronger as the game went on, needing just six pitches to get through the sixth inning and striking out two of the last three hitters of the game. He got a whopping 22 swings and misses. After a damaging second inning, in which the Orioles got all three of the runs he allowed, Tanaka gave up just three singles, a walk and struck out seven the rest of the way.

Empty Garden: Brett Gardner led off the eighth with a double to right -- and the Yankees failed to get him home. Derek Jeter bunted him over to third, but Jacoby Ellsbury fouled out to the infield. After an intentional walk to the suddenly red-hot Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann flied out to center to end the threat. In retrospect, the decision to have Jeter bunt, giving away a crucial out with no threat of a double play, seemed very questionable indeed.

Good company: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Tanaka is the first pitcher to start his career with pair of eight-plus strikeout games since Stephen Strasburg in 2010, and the first Yankee ever to do it.

Scratching it out: The Yankees built a run out of a Carlos Beltran leadoff double, a fly out that moved him to third, and a groundout by Alfonso Soriano that scored him to tie the game at 3 in the fourth inning.

Moon shot: Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles' No. 9 hitter, showed what major-league hitters do to splitters that don't split and sliders that don't slide. He sent Tanaka's second-inning 1-0 split up and out of the park, way back in the second deck just inside the left-field foul pole with two on to give Baltimore an early 3-0 lead. Five of the first eight Orioles hit the ball hard off Tanaka for four hits, including Delmon Young's first-inning double into the left-field corner.

Two for the show: The Yankees answered Schoop's blast with a pair of solo homers of their own in the bottom of the second, by Beltran and Kelly Johnson. Beltran's shot was into the second deck in right, and Johnson's gave him the team lead so far, with 2.

Tomorrow: Big test for Michael Pineda, who not only will make his Yankee Stadium debut, but gets thrust into his first Yankees-Red Sox game. Pineda (0-1, 1.50) faces RHP Clay Buchholz (0-0, 12.46). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.