BALTIMORE — Perhaps the baseball galaxy is looking at the Yankees all wrong.
As the losses mount a fickle fan base wants to clean house and members of other organizations ask what is wrong with a team many of the same voices predicted would win the World Series before each of this year’s spring trainings got underway.
Yet, look at the batting averages Aaron Boone had on the field for Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards, and maybe the Yankees are doing well to be a pedestrian 21-19 even if they lost three of four to the lowly Birds.
Miguel Andujar: .162.
Tyler Wade: .164.
Mike Ford: .149.
Brett Gardner: .188.
Luke Voit had two hits in the previous 20 at-bats.
Mike Tauchman was in a 2-for-26 slide.
Those were the starters.
Gary Sanchez was at .130 and benched.
Aaron Hicks was at .200 when he pinch hit.
Add in errors by Andujar and Ford that led to three unearned runs and it’s easy to think that at 21-19 the Yankees might be overachieving if you can look past them losing 13 of the last 18 games.
And that is without Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and James Paxton for a big part of a small season.
It is not what anyone expected, but maybe this is what the Yankees are.
Masahiro Tanaka gave up two runs, a hit and a walk before registering an out in the first inning but gave his mates a chance to leave the Inner Harbor with a split of a four-game series by allowing six hits and four runs (two earned) in 5 ¹/₃ innings. But the dead bats and some leaky defense saddled Tanaka with the loss. He is 1-2.
Dean Kremer made his major league debut and limited the Yankees to one run, three hits and struck out seven in six innings.
The Yankees started the day 5 ½ games in back of the first-place Rays in the AL East and tied with the Blue Jays for second.
Tanaka rebounded well from a shaky first frame when he gave up two runs, three hits and a walk by blanking the Orioles in the following four innings.
And since he was working in front of a lineup swinging dead wood, Tanaka had to keep the O’s from grabbing a substantial lead.
The Yankees entered the game hitting .196 (22-for-112) with runners in scoring position in the previous 16 games, of which they lost 11.
Through five innings, the Yankees were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position but did get a run on Eric Kratz’s ground out in the second.
Kremer’s first big-league inning couldn’t have been better since he caught DJ LaMahieu looking, struck out Luke Voit swinging and retired Brett Gardner on a fly to center.
A leadoff walk to Clint Frazier, Andujar’s one-out single to center and a walk to Tauchman loaded the bases for Kratz in the second. His ground ball to Rio Ruiz forced Andujar at third but scored Frazier before Wade killed the rally by striking out looking.
By the time Tanaka recorded the initial out of the first inning the Orioles led, 2-0, and had runners on first and second.
Hanser Alberto reached on a bunt singled that traveled about 15 feet in front of home plate and DJ Stewart’s assault on the team that took him in the 28th round of the 2012 draft out of high school but didn’t sign him, hit a 1-0 pitch over the right-field wall for a 2-0 lead. Stewart hit two homers in Saturday night’s 6-1 Orioles victory.
Pedro Severino followed with a single to left, Ryan Mountcastle walked and the O’s were set up for a damaging opening frame. Tanaka responded by striking out Rio Ruiz and retiring Pat Valaika on a routine fly to left and then watched Kratz pick Severino off second for the final out.