A dramatic walk, terrible Orioles save Yankees after pen meltdown

BALTIMORE — With the Yankees’ two hottest hitters glued to the dugout bench at the start of the game, Masahiro Tanaka delivered a performance worthy of ace status.

Jonathan Holder and Tommy Kahnle then spit on it, which flushed a win for Tanaka but not for the Yankees, who used Aaron Hicks’ bases-loaded walk from Mychal Givens in the ninth inning for a 6-5 victory that was witnessed by a Camden Yards gathering of 30,624 and gave the Yankees a four-game sweep.

Givens retired the first two batters in the ninth before walking Gleyber Torres and giving up a bloop single to Gary Sanchez. Both were pinch-hitting. Givens walked DJ LeMahieu to load the bases and missed with a 3-2 pitch to Hicks that forced in Torres.

With Boone wanting to avoid using closer Aroldis Chapman for a third game in four days, Zack Britton worked the ninth for the save.

The victory was the Yankees’ ninth in 10 games and pushed the record to 32-17.

When Boone’s lineup card was posted on the wall inside the Yankees’ clubhouse Thursday morning, Sanchez and Torres weren’t in it.

That didn’t mean the Yankees didn’t have enough firepower to handle the awful Orioles pitching staff, but a solid outing by Tanaka would help the effort to sweep a team that stinks from the head down.

However, Holder facing three batters to start the eighth and not getting out an out while giving up a run in his second inning of work put the Yankees in a bad spot.

Kahnle replaced Holder with runners on first and second and the Yankees leading, 5-1. He popped up Dwight Smith, Jr. and watched a 2-2 fastball to Renato Nunez vanish over the left-center field wall and tie the score, 5-5.

Tanaka shook off getting drilled in the right hand and chest in the second by a line drive when he gave up a run to go six innings, in which he surrendered five hits. It was the second straight start a batted ball found one of Tanaka’s body parts. Saturday, he was forced out of the game when hit on the right shin.

With Domingo German pitching not only like a standout but as a potential All-Star, he has grabbed the ace title left open when Luis Severino didn’t make it out of spring training and hasn’t pitched anywhere yet.

Based on his last four outings, Tanaka has picked up the void created by James Paxton and CC Sabathia landing on the injured list.

Clint Frazier’s fifth-inning, solo homer off Dylan Bundy tied the score, 1-1 and Gio Urshela’s two-out, two-run single in the sixth put the Yankees ahead, 3-1. Austin Romine added an RBI single in the seventh and Luke Voit homered with the bases empty in the eighth.

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