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A controversial call in the bottom of the 11th inning on Friday night lost the Yankees a game against the Orioles, a scenario they can ill-afford to repeat

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Aroldis Chapman thought it was a strike. Catcher Jose Trevino thought it was a strike. But home plate umpire Tom Hallion thought it was a ball, and he was the only man in Camden Yards on Friday night whose opinion actually mattered.

And when Hallion failed to lift his arm on Chapman's 3-2 slider to Ramon Urias in the bottom of the 11th, the New York Yankees dropped the opening game of a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 to fall to 4-4 on the young 2022 season.

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Two batters reach on pitches that — per YES' K-zone, should've been strikes. This includes the game-winning walk.

The Yankees, a team with World Series aspirations, should beat the Orioles, a club in a seemingly endless rebuild. They have the payroll, the powerful roster, and the pitching that should overwhelm the lowly Orioles. But none of that mattered on Friday, and the Yankees have only themselves to blame after losing a game that may come back to haunt them later in the season.

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Yankees vs Orioles: Missed calls doom New York

There's the sputtering offense, which hasn't managed to score more than four runs in a game since Opening Day. They went 2-11 with runners in scoring position against the Orioles, even failing to score in either the 10th or 11th with a runner starting on second base. Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson, Joey Gallo, and DJ LeMahieu, part of the heart of their lineup, went a combined 3-18 with six strikeouts. The Yankees' 25 runs scored over their first eight games are the fewest for the franchise since 2008.

Their pitching, the team's strength so far this season, did its part, stranding 15 baserunners and shutting out the Orioles until the seventh inning despite 10 walks. But it was two pitches in the 11th that proved the Yankees' undoing.

Reliever Clarke Schmidt, working his second inning after a scoreless 10th, walked Anthony Bemboom with one out to put two men on base. With a 2-1 count on Kelvin Gutierrez, Schmidt threw a slider that appeared to catch the bottom corner of the strike zone. Hallion, though, called it a ball and made the count 3-1. Three pitches later, Schmidt missed inside with a sinker to load the bases and sent manager Aaron Boone out to the mound to call in closer Chapman.

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Chapman struck out Cedric Mullins for the second out, bringing up the right-hander Urias. Chapman quickly got to a 0-2 count, getting Urias to swing at two fastballs. Then he missed with two straight fastballs and a low slider. Chapman forsook his fastball once again on 3-2, throwing another slider that stayed high.

Urias didn't offer at it, and the pitch popped in Trevino's glove. The Yankees catcher stood up and started walking back to the dugout, believing it was a strike. Chapman also started walking off the mound toward the plate. It was a borderline pitch, one that would determine whether the Yankees would extend the game to the 12th or head back to the clubhouse. Hallion ruled it was a ball, much to the astonishment of the Yankees battery.

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Boone came out to argue and was ejected from a game that was already over. The frustration boiled over after a game in which the pitching staff did everything they could to win slipped away.

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"The last pitch was probably up. Thought maybe there was a pitch with Clarke earlier in the inning that we had them," Boone admitted. "Frustrating to not be able to put more on the board tonight. But we got to get over it."

Boone sounded the right tone about moving on, but this game, in a division that will likely be determined by which of the top-four teams does best against the Orioles, will still haunt them. The Yankees went 11-8 against the Orioles last year; the Tampa Bay Rays, meanwhile, went 18-1 and finished eight games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. That put the Yankees in a winner-take-all, loser-goes-home Wild Card game at Fenway Park last October. The Yankees went home.

If the Yankees want to avoid the same scenario playing out in 2022, Friday's outcome is one they have to avoid repeating. There were some borderline calls, but the fabled Bronx Bombers have largely been extinguished this season.

Boone and Chapman can blame the umpire all they want. But for the reason why they dropped a game that was theirs for the taking, they should look around their own clubhouse.

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