BALTIMORE — Third basemen are instructed to go after every ground ball toward the hole if they feel a clean play can be made.
So when Miguel Andujar started moving to his left on Pedro Severino’s grounder to start the sixth inning Sunday at Camden Yards, it appeared shortstop Tyler Wade was in better position to field the ball and get it to first than Andujar — who struggles defensively.
It was Andujar’s aggressiveness that cost the Yankees, because the ball tipped off his glove for an error that led to two unearned runs in a 5-1 loss.
“If you are going to get the ball cleanly as a third baseman, you are going to go in front of the shortstop,’’ said Aaron Boone, a former big-league third baseman. “Anyway it is a play we have to make, obviously.’’
First baseman Mike Ford committed a fielding error an inning later on a pickoff play that led to a third unearned run one day after four of the six Oriole runs were unearned.
“We talk about winning the margins and right now we are struggling to score some runs,’’ Boone said. “It’s the little things that are important in these tight games.’’
Starting Monday in Buffalo, the Yankees will play the first of 10 games against the Blue Jays in an 18-day stretch that will likely decide who finishes second in the AL East and cops the automatic spot in the postseason.
In a weird twist to a very different season, it will be the first time the Yankees and Blue Jays will meet this season despite residing in the same division.
“Obviously they are a good team and we started to see a lot of their young players emerge last year and continue to do that now,’’ Boone said. “They’ve created a nice pitching staff, they made some moves that bolster their rotation, their pen. They are going to be a challenge whether we play them 10 in 18 or whatever. We have to play well and those will be important games.’’
With three games this week, it’s not likely Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge will be ready. The next time the Yankees face the Blue Jays is Sept. 15-17 at Yankee Stadium. The final meeting is a four-game series in Buffalo Sept. 21-24 and there is no guarantee Stanton or Judge will be back then to prop up a lineup that is in dire need of help.
Sunday marked the fourth straight game Boone went with Luke Voit as the DH and started the left-handed swinging Mike Ford at first base.
“It’s more about that I have been leaning on Luke so much and playing him so many days in a row. Just use the DH with him while we have that spot a little more open,’’ Boone said. “Obviously it is not an off day but it is a way to keep him out there every day and also lightening the load from a defensive standpoint. It’s more about keeping Luke as fresh as possible.’’
Gleyber Torres’ return from the injured list with a left hamstring injury on Saturday was a day earlier than expected, so the shortstop didn’t start Sunday’s game, but it wasn’t due to a physical problem. Nor was Boone tempted to play Torres against a team he kills and in a park he has hit very well.
“No temptation because we brought him back a day early with [it] in mind that Sunday would be his recovery day from Scranton,’’ Boone said about playing Torres, who is a career .339 hitter with eight homers and 14 RBIs in 18 games at Camden Yards and a .345 hitter with 16 homers and 31 RBIs against the Orioles. “It was either have him Sunday or Saturday with a built-in day off. No temptation.’’
Torres went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in Saturday’s 6-1 loss and grounded out as a pinch hitter on Sunday.
When Jordan Montgomery faces the Blue Jays in Buffalo’s Sahlen Field on Monday, he will feel comfortable in the Triple-A facility based on something that happened four years ago when he was with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“I think Buffalo is where I broke the Triple-A most consecutive scoreless [innings] record. I am pretty sure,’’ said Montgomery, who threw 29 ¹/₃ innings from Aug. 7-31, 2016. “I have good memories. I enjoyed it. That was when we were just going out there throwing and didn’t have anything else to worry about, didn’t have COVID to worry about. Good memories, just another ballpark, not worried about. It’s a ballpark. We will make do.’’
Yankees recalled outfielder Estevan Florial from the alternate site and sent right-handed reliever Miguel Yajure to Scranton. Yajure pitched the final two innings Saturday.
The Yankees brought back lefty reliever Luis Avilan on Sunday and added him to the 60-man roster and sent him to the alternate site in Scranton. Avilan was released Aug. 28 after appearing in 10 games this year.