Through the first inning of Wednesday afternoon's matchup, the Orioles watched as three Yankees crossed the plate one by one. That was only the beginning.
The flood of New York runs came later.
The Baltimore bullpen went to work early after Dennis Safrate exited after four innings in his first career big league start. But the relievers couldn't keep the game within reach, giving up eight runs as the Yankees went on to hand the Orioles a 13-3 loss.
"Our problem was after Sarfate came out of the game we didn't back him up by putting zeroes on the board," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. "We felt real confident we were going to score a lot of runs today the way we've been swinging the bat. But you've got to pitch, you've got to put zeroes up, you've got to throw strikes. You really get in trouble against this team when you pitch behind."
Sarfate (4-2) gave up just two hits and struck out five in his first outing as a Major League starter. But three walks were enough to spoil the performance and give him the loss. The right-hander put three New York batters on base from walks, and all three eventually scored.
After striking out Johnny Damon to start the game, Sarfate threw eight straight balls to put Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu on base for the Yankees.
"Those guys aren't going to chase pitches out of the strike zone," Trembley said. "You're not going to get away with that in the big leagues. You're not going to get away with that against teams like the Yankees and Boston. They're notorious for working the count."
Sarfate said he didn't feel nerves before the game, but he felt he was able to settle down after the first inning. He retired the first three batters he faced in the second and fourth innings to record quick outs.
"I just got off track a little bit then got back on track," he said. "Maybe a little anxious, trying to do too much in the first inning.
"I think I need to just go out there next time and do a little bit more of what I do out of the 'pen--just go after the guys, throw strike one. ... Now I've got the first one under my belt and out of the way, and next time I'll look to do a little bit better."
The Orioles struck first on Wednesday afternoon when designated hitter Aubrey Huff connected on a single to left field that drove in Brian Roberts in the first inning. But the Yankees answered in the bottom of the inning with three runs to take the lead, and they never relinquished it.
Baltimore (51-56) took two of three in its series against the Yankees (59-48), but couldn't hold back the New York bats in the finale to come away with the sweep.
"If you win a series against the Yankees or a team the caliber of the Yankees, you've got to be happy about that," Trembley said. "It's just unfortunate this one got away. We didn't play well enough to have any chance at all really to win. We scored in the first inning and gave it right back, and then it snowballed from there."
The New York offense continued to roll against the Baltimore bullpen. Brian Burres yielded four earned runs on four hits, and Fernando Cabrera walked in a run, allowed another to score off a wild pitch and surrendered consecutive home runs to Abreu and Alex Rodriguez as part of the Yankees' late onslaught from the plate.
Baltimore's lineup produced six hits and three runs, and despite New York's offensive fireworks, a moment of drama came when the Orioles' Kevin Millar stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning.
One day after Baltimore starter Daniel Cabrera was ejected for throwing a pitch at Rodriguez's head, New York reliever Edwar Ramirez was thrown out of the game for a throw that was sent just above Millar's head as he fell to the ground to avoid the pitch.
The Orioles will continue their road trip when they face Seattle on Friday night. They have won three of their last four, and while the lineup has regularly put up runs, Trembley said the team will need more consistency from the players on the mound.
"We've got to put it all together," he said. "The lineup has been pretty steady. We're swinging the bats well. I think we've got the right mix going there, but we just need to pitch better and give ourselves a chance because we feel if we keep the game close we'll score enough runs to win."
Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.