'Electric' Germán dominates Orioles in win

April 29th, 2021

For almost five innings Wednesday night, was in total command. Aside from a walk to DJ Stewart in the second, Germán retired 14 Orioles to open the game. It took a ground ball off the bat of the speedy Ryan Mountcastle that careened toward foul territory along the third-base line -- forcing Gio Urshela to attempt an acrobatic jumping throw that he nearly completed in time to first -- for Germán to give up a hit.

With Germán’s best start of the season setting the tone, aided by home runs from Mike Ford, Gio Urshela and Clint Frazier, the Yankees earned a 7-0 win at Oriole Park.

“He was pretty electric with his stuff,” said manager Aaron Boone. “There were a number of times where I was like, ‘That was a pretty special finishing pitch right there.’ And he did it with everything. He had some freeze breaking balls, he had some changeups for soft contact and I thought probably his best command and stuff with the fastball and the sinker.”

Germán threw 92 pitches (63 strikes) and went seven innings, striking out six batters for the second consecutive outing -- he earned his first win of the season in that start against Cleveland last Thursday.

Mountcastle’s infield single and another pair of singles in the seventh inning were all the Orioles could muster against Germán.

“Germán was really good,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. “He was throwing all pitches for strikes. Keeping the ball down in the zone but elevating when he wanted to. You saw a lot of changeups we tapped to the pull side; we didn’t square many balls up. ... We had a tough time with Germán, and rightfully so; he had really good stuff tonight."

Germán proved once again that he has the Orioles’ number. The right-hander has yet to lose a game against the O’s in his career, and his five wins are his most against any opponent.

Germán had every pitch in his arsenal working Wednesday, distributing the load nearly evenly between his fastball (26), curveball (24), changeup (21) and sinker (21).

“Love to see it,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who went 3-for-5 with two runs scored -- one of five Yankees to record a multihit game. “The ball’s going all over the place when he’s throwing mid to upper 90s, so just the reaction time and the pitch selection they have to deal with is really tough. When you can throw four pitches in the zone, starting in the zone and breaking out, it’s a very difficult at-bat. And he was on all cylinders.”

The success Germán has had since his short trip to the alternate training site earlier this month is clear. In his first two starts of 2021 against the Blue Jays and the Rays, Germán gave up seven runs on 12 hits with four homers allowed in seven innings, picking up a pair of losses.

But in his two starts since, against Cleveland and Baltimore, Germán has turned the tide, allowing just three runs (two earned) on 10 hits with two walks in 13 innings. In the process, he lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 4.05.

Germán said that he discussed what he wanted to accomplish with the pitching coach at the alternate training site, zeroing in on commanding his fastball, locating secondary pitches, attacking the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters.

The results speak for themselves, but Boone believes that Germán’s earlier struggles were more an aberration than a problem.

“He had a couple rough starts, but they were a little wonky and they didn’t determine what we were seeing from him all spring long,” Boone said. “And I’m not surprised to see him go out there and pitch the way he is right now. He’s in a really good place and throwing the ball really well.”

As fate would have it, the last batter Germán faced Wednesday was Mountcastle, and the right-hander had the last laugh. He froze Mountcastle on an 83.7 mph curveball, then raised his fist and let out a yell to punctuate his night.

“It’s one of those moments in the game where I felt like I needed to express some emotion,” Germán said. “I felt like, in a way, it was to let people know that I’m back. I feel better than before, and I’m just getting started now.”