A robust gathering ventured to Yankee Stadium on Monday night for the possibility of seeing a couple of long balls from the Yankees’ two new prized lefty sluggers.
Instead, imported lefty Andrew Heaney became the first pitcher in Yankees history to allow four or more home runs in his team debut in a lackluster 7-1 loss to the AL-worst Orioles to open a seven-game home stand.
The news got even worse after the game, when Aaron Boone revealed that ace Gerrit Cole has been scratched from Tuesday’s start because he has tested positive for COVID-19. Gio Urshela also became the latest key player to land on the injured list, with a hamstring injury.
“It definitely sucks. It’s been a tough year,” catcher Gary Sanchez said through a translator after the game. “This with Cole, it’s definitely a low blow there … it’s not been easy at all.
“But that being said … we’ve got to find a way to turn the page and keep fighting. We understand the task we have and the time is to keep moving forward and do the best we can out there.”
The Yankees (56-49) had won five of their previous six on the road through a weekend sweep in Miami, but they managed just two hits Monday and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position against Baltimore starter Jorge Lopez — who entered with a 2-12 record and a 6.19 ERA — and three relievers in the Stadium debuts of deadline acquisitions Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo.
“Unfortunately we were kind of held down. The Orioles took it to us tonight in every way,” Boone said. “It kind of spoils that homecoming a little bit. I know the guys were excited.”
Before the game, Boone also claimed he was excited to watch Heaney, who was 6-7 with a 5.42 ERA in 18 starts this season with the Angels before arriving in a deadline deal for two minor league pitchers.
Heaney recorded a perfect first inning, drawing huge cheers while he walked off the mound following a strikeout of No. 3 hitter Trey Mancini. Heaney posted another zero in the second despite a leadoff double by Ryan Mountcastle, but Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays took him deep with back-to-back home runs one inning later, for a 2-0 Baltimore lead.
Lopez clipped Rizzo with a pitch and walked Gallo in the first, but Giancarlo Stanton bounced grounded to third to end the inning. Lopez also walked two in the second, but DJ LeMahieu — starting for the first time since Thursday due to a triceps issue — grounded out to second to end that threat.
Heaney surrendered two more solo shots in the fourth, with Mountcastle and Ramon Urias taking him deep to left for a 4-0 hole. It marked the first time Heaney had allowed four home runs in one start since August 2017, also against Baltimore.
“Usually I say solo homers don’t beat you, but you give up four of them in four innings, that’s probably going to do it,” Heaney said. “It was just frustrating to put the team in a hole like that and not really give us a chance. … I wish I could have done better.”
Heaney was replaced by Joely Rodriguez, who was acquired from the Rangers along with Gallo, to start the fifth. The lefty reliever permitted two more runs to score in the sixth on sacrifice flies by Pedro Severino and Maikel Franco for a 6-1 game.
The most excitement of the night for the home crowd of nearly 29,000 came in the bottom of the eighth inning, when the lopsided game was delayed for several minutes while the grounds crew attempted to corral an elusive stray cat loose on the warning track, prompting the fans to chant, “MVP” and “Let’s Go Cat.”
The Yankees plated a run without managing a hit in the fifth on walks by Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner and a sac fly into foul territory by Rizzo. It was the former Cub’s fourth RBI in four games since the trade. Gallo’s leadoff double in the sixth represented the first hit of the night for the Yankees.
“It was definitely a crazy day. … The first game here felt fresh, wearing those pinstripes,” Gallo said. “It obviously would have been great to get a win … but I think sometimes that’s how baseball goes and tomorrow we’ll bounce back.”