Jordan Lyles came to the Orioles with a reputation. By the standards of this rebuild, yes, he’s been an innings eater throughout his career, but his 2021 season was his only campaign truly deserving of that title by league standards.
His 2022 is trending toward joining it.
The New York Yankees’ big first inning Wednesday night ultimately handed Lyles and the Orioles a 3-2 defeat, their sixth straight overall and to their American League East foes, but the veteran left-hander bounced back from that rough start. Lyles followed the first inning with six scoreless frames, giving Baltimore’s stagnant offense at least the chance to rally against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and a dominant New York bullpen.
Lyles said when he spoke with Orioles manager Brandon Hyde after the top of the seventh, he “asked him nicely” to work the eighth despite having thrown a season-high 106 pitches. It’s been a frequent topic of conversation between manager and veteran pitcher. Lyles, 31, tracked his desire to work an additional inning to his past work out of the bullpen, knowing how valuable starters working deeper into games is to the relievers.
“It’s for the boys,” Lyles said. “That means for the boys out in the bullpen. For the boys, always. When in doubt, try and scratch out another one for the boys.
“Such a long season, when they can count on you to get deep into games and just wear one for the boys out there, it means a lot.”
Lyles threw a career-high 180 innings last year for the Texas Rangers to qualify for the ERA title for the first time in his 11-season career. Of course, qualification does not guarantee quality, as Lyles led the majors in home runs and earned runs allowed. He has not fully reversed that course — though his ERA is now a full run lower at 4.11, including a 2.10 mark at Camden Yards — but he has been largely reliable for Hyde after being given a contract this offseason that made him Baltimore’s highest-paid pitcher.
He has gone at least five innings in all but one of his eight starts, coming an out short in the lone exception. His second start of at least seven innings gave him more than all the Orioles not named John Means collectively threw in 2021. When the outing ended, he ranked fifth in the AL in innings pitched.
“I think he’s doing what we thought he was gonna do,” Hyde said. “This is an extremely tough division to pitch in. He’s answered the bell every time. He’s given us a chance to win every time out. He did that again tonight. He’s an ultra competitor, does not want to come out of the game, feels like it’s his game, and I appreciate that about him.”
Such a performance seemed unlikely in the opening frame. Lyles allowed three straight two-out hits, with Gleyber Torres doubling in the night’s first run. Torres then scored from second on a wild pitch, with catcher Anthony Bemboom making a wild throw toward Lyles to try to get Josh Donaldson at home.
Lyles kept the deficit at three, retiring 17 of the final 18 Yankees he faced, including the last 13. He wanted to push further, but Hyde turned to a bullpen that provided another two scoreless innings.
“He was trying to talk me into going back out there,” Hyde said. “Still got four-plus months to go.”
The Orioles (14-24) have gone more than a week since they last scored more than four runs. Even that output would’ve been enough for a victory Wednesday.
They managed to compete early with Cole, who didn’t record a strikeout until striking out the side in the fourth. They finally broke through in the sixth, with Cedric Mullins singling to left and scoring when Austin Hays doubled there.
After advancing to third on a ground ball, Hays scored on another, dragging his mitted left hand across home plate to avoid a tag.
Hays, though, was the only Oriole to reach base the rest of the game. He singled in the eighth for his third hit before being doubled up on Anthony Santander’s line drive to first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The ball had an expected batting average of .560, according to Statcast.
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The Yankees (28-9) claimed the four-game series and will try for a sweep Thursday. New York has won 23 of 27 games since dropping a series in Baltimore in mid-April.
“We’re just a hit or two away from kind of breaking out a little bit,” Hyde said. “Santander hits that ball, Riz makes a great play. Done that 1,000 times. Possibly rattles around in the corner there.
“Just had an unfortunate first inning and got beat by a good club.”
- After designating him for assignment over the weekend, the Orioles traded left-handed reliever Paul Fry, their longest-tenured pitcher, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 19-year-old right-hander Luis Osorio. Born in Venezuela, Osorio had a 5.83 ERA in 15 games, six of them starts, in the Dominican Summer League last year. He allowed a .217 batting average and struck out 28.5% of opposing hitters.
- Top prospect Adley Rutschman caught for Triple-A Norfolk for the second straight night, the second time he’s done so this year as he works his way back from a right tricep strain that delayed the start of his season. In a span of fewer than 10 minutes, Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Colton Cowser — three of Baltimore’s top six prospects — all hit opposite-field home runs for different affiliates.
- In his first rehabilitation outing with Double-A Bowie, right-hander Dean Kremer (left oblique strain) pitched an immaculate first inning, striking out the side on nine pitches. He finished with five strikeouts and one hit allowed in two scoreless innings.
- Shortstop Jorge Mateo was back in the Orioles’ lineup after missing two games following a collision on the base paths Sunday that left him with a sore rib cage. He went 0-for-3.
Thursday, 12:35 p.m.
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