BALTIMORE -- What was supposed to be easy is getting increasingly difficult for the New York Yankees: namely nailing down home-field advantage for Tuesday's wild-card playoff game. In the first game of a day-night doubleheader necessitated by Friday night's rainout, the Yankees were bombed 9-2 by a Baltimore Orioles team that has nothing to play for but the remote possibility of finishing with a .500 record. That, and manager Buck Showalter's satisfaction at beating his former employers.
In any event, the Yankees need to win the nightcap -- or hope that the Houston Astros lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks later Saturday -- in order to ensure themselves at least one more game at home this year. And the pressure's on.
Thumbs up: The only real positive is that there's a second game Saturday night and Luis Severino is starting it. That and Rico Noel, brought up solely to pinch run, got an at-bat in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter and beat out an infield hit.
Thumbs down: Ivan Nova, who needed a big performance but came up small, allowing five runs in 5⅔ innings and probably pitched his way off the postseason roster. Chasen Shreve faced five batters and allowed three hits, walked one, wild-pitched a run home and looked nothing like the pitcher who went the entire month of June without allowing a run. Chase Headley, John Ryan Murphy and Jose Pirela, none of whom could get the ball out of the infield in the second inning after Chris Young led off with a triple. Brendan Ryan, who foolishly tried to go from first to third on a single to left and was easily thrown out by Steve Pearce. Alex Rodriguez, who went 0-for-4 and struck out with two on in the seventh and the Yankees having just cut the lead to 7-2. And, of course, manager Joe Girardi, who decided to treat this doubleheader as a pair of split-squad games, essentially conceding Game 1 and putting more pressure on his team to win Game 2 in their bid to host that wild-card game on Tuesday.
Next: Game 2 at 7:05 p.m.