Aaron Judge wanted to be aggressive, believing an extra base could spark life into the Yankees' stalled offense. Manager Aaron Boone hesitated on the resulting play, then was incensed when he was told he had squandered the opportunity to challenge that call.
The eighth-inning theatrics resulted in Judge committing a cardinal no-no by making the final out at third base and Boone handing off his lineup card following his first ejection of the season, saddling the Yankees with a 4-2 loss to the Orioles on Monday evening at Camden Yards.
"I was trying to make something happen," Judge said. "In that situation, I've got to stay at second base and keep the inning rolling. You don't want to end an inning like that, especially when you've got a team on the ropes and guys are swinging the bat well in that inning."
Limited to one run through the first seven frames, New York showed discipline by working three walks against left-hander Tanner Scott. Gio Urshela greeted right-hander César Valdez by lashing a two-out drive down the left-field line, which appeared as though it would chase home Clint Frazier and DJ LeMahieu.
Judge took that as a given, sighting a ball that he thought was destined to rattle into the corner. Left fielder Austin Hays made a strong throw to third base, where Judge slid feet-first toward the home plate side of the bag, then attempted to reach past a tag from third baseman Maikel Franco with his left hand.
"My eyes thought it was 100 percent that I got in there, but the replay probably says different," Judge said. "I've got to play a little smarter baseball there."
Boone paused in the dugout as bench coach Carlos Mendoza pressed a telephone receiver to his right ear, waiting for confirmation from the video room that LeMahieu had scored or that Judge avoided the tag. Twenty seconds expired, and by the time Boone cupped his hands to his ears to indicate a challenge, first-base umpire Greg Gibson told Boone that he needn't bother coming out of the dugout.
"Very frustrating," Boone said. "That's a play that obviously I'm going to challenge at that point in the game all day long, but I at least want to give them a chance to see both [replays] in case it's a total moot point."
Boone said a few choice words to Gibson and was tossed. Boone said that the Yankees' internal replays suggested that LeMahieu's run would not have counted.
"It's a big play," said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. "Austin Hays has a plus, plus arm. It's extremely accurate and he looks for plays like that. He wants to throw. The ball took him to the line; that's not easy to then plant and make a strong throw to third base. And he puts it right on the money. So that was a game-saving play."
"This one stings," Boone said. "We'll be pissed off about it here for a minute, but we've got to turn the page and come out and get a big one tomorrow."
Promoted from the alternate training site to make his season debut, Deivi García tossed 65 pitches over four innings, making two trips through the batting order but receiving little support from the Yanks' bats.
García answered that call in the Yankees' 22nd game, touched by Cedric Mullins' leadoff homer and Freddy Galvis' second-inning RBI double among three hits. García walked three and struck out four in his seventh regular-season start.
Rated as New York's No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, García competed for a rotation spot this spring and was instructed to stay ready for when the club needed a sixth starter.
"It was definitely a learning experience and a competitive one too," García said through an interpreter. "I felt like I had to battle every single pitch. You have to find what kind of mix of pitches is going to work out."
A 'dark' night
The Yanks were mostly silenced by right-hander Matt Harvey, an ex-Mets phenom who turned the clock back and limited New York to three hits over six innings.
Giancarlo Stanton and Judge stroked consecutive two-out doubles in the sixth to produce the only run off Harvey, who walked three and struck out five.
Darren O'Day balked home a run in the sixth inning and Mullins slugged a second homer facing Justin Wilson in the seventh.
"The hits aren't exactly falling right now, for me or really for anyone," LeMahieu said. "That just goes back to us pressing a little bit offensively. I know we're going to be better than we have been. We're all frustrated."