The Orioles were two outs from handing one of the best pitchers in baseball his first loss. One of the best hitters in baseball made sure it didn’t happen.
Baltimore built a four-run lead off New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and was two outs from another series-opening victory, but reigning American League Most Valuable Player Aaron Judge homered off Orioles closer Félix Bautista with one out in the ninth to tie the game and send the Orioles to their third straight extra-innings contest. In the 10th, Anthony Volpe’s sacrifice fly off Bryan Baker gave New York a 6-5 victory.
“It’s disappointing to lose that kind of game,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “But that’s a really good team over there. … I’m happy with how we battled at the plate. One-run lead going into the ninth, you take your chances with Bautista.”
After striking out Gleyber Torres on his splitter to open the inning, Bautista tried to go back to the pitch after getting ahead 0-2 on Judge with a pair of 100 mph fastballs. But instead of putting the pitch down and away as he intended, Bautista left it in the middle of the zone, and Judge, who hit an AL-record 62 home runs last year, launched it to left for a drive that MLB tracking determined would have been a home run at all 30 ballparks.
Of the 399 career splitters Bautista has thrown, the one offered to Judge was only the third hit for a home run. Entering Tuesday, 58.8% of the swings taken against Bautista’s splitter this year have missed, tied for the second-highest rate among the 756 unique pitches that have drawn at least 50 swings.
“I think I did a good job of getting him in the hole pretty early on in that at-bat,” Bautista said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “Unfortunately, that pitch that I threw that he hit out of the ballpark, I didn’t execute it well.”
Added Hyde: “His split’s one of the hardest pitches to hit. He’s scuffling a little bit with it right now. He just hung it.”
Judge’s home run meant Orioles starter Kyle Bradish’s pursuit of a win against an AL East opponent continued. Although Baltimore’s four-run advantage evaporated with Bradish on the mound, he exited in position for his first win in 16 divisional starts. Instead, he remains 0-8 with a 7.86 ERA despite being 6-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his 15 other starts.
A run in the top of the sixth, scored on Terrin Vavra’s bases-loaded groundout, meant Bradish left with a lead and represented Baltimore’s fifth tally against Cole, who entered 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA. Cedric Mullins, who homered off Cole in third, nearly broke the game open in the frame, but the inning ended with the bases loaded when Judge caught his fly ball to right field on the warning track.
The Orioles (31-17) struck early against one of baseball’s top pitchers. Cole walked Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle in the first before Adam Frazier scored both with a double that narrowly evaded Judge’s diving attempt. After ending April hitting .220 with a .663 OPS, Frazier entered Tuesday batting .288 with an .840 OPS in May.
Solo home runs from Mullins and Gunnar Henderson in the third and fourth, respectively, extended the Orioles’ lead to four. Mullins’ pushed Cole beyond two runs allowed for only the second time in 11 starts. Henderson’s continued his May turnaround and made him the youngest Oriole to homer in a regular season game at either version of Yankee Stadium since Eddie Murray in 1977.
The Yankees’ rally off Bradish began there, with Harrison Bader homering in the bottom of the fourth. Two singles opened the fifth before Bradish retired Judge on a lineout, but Anthony Rizzo doubled in a run. DJ LeMahieu singled in another ahead of Bader tying the game on a sacrifice fly.
“I thought he was pretty inconsistent,” Hyde said. “In the fifth there, he was giving up some loud contact, but stuff was kind of moving all over the place.”
Hyde said Bradish’s command didn’t align with his previous start, when he held the Los Angeles Angels to one run over 6 2/3 innings. Bradish agreed.
“It was a grind from pitch one,” he said. “Obviously, didn’t have great command. Wasn’t throwing my slider for strikes. But it’s tough. I got through five and kept us in the ballgame. It’s a tough loss because we jumped out to an early lead.
“That’s a tough team to not have your best stuff against.”
After Mychal Givens worked a scoreless sixth, Yennier Cano pitched two scoreless innings, working out of jams in both. With runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, he fielded a bunt from LeMahieu and flipped to catcher Adley Rutschman for the out, breaking out his signature straddle near home plate. He showed off the move again after a two-out double in the eighth with a strikeout, leaving him with one run allowed over his first 20 outings.
Bautista bounced back from Judge’s homer with strikeouts of Rizzo and LeMahieu to send the game to extras, where the Orioles had won their previous two games to complete a sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays. But they were unable to advance Rutschman, their automatic runner, past second in the top of the 10th, and in the bottom half, Volpe’s deep fly ball to Mullins in center field gave the Yankees a victory in a game they didn’t lead until the final play.
Around the horn
- Infielder Ramón Urías, on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain, will begin a rehabilitation assignment Wednesday as the designated hitter for High-A Aberdeen.
- Right-hander Dillon Tate (right elbow flexor strain) allowed a run in two-thirds of an inning in his latest rehab outing Tuesday for Triple-A Norfolk. Pitchers’ rehab assignments can’t extend beyond 30 days, and Tate will reach that benchmark Wednesday. By Thursday, the Orioles will likely either activate him from the 15-day injured list or option him. Tate has two minor league options remaining.
- Outfielder Kyle Stowers was placed on Norfolk’s seven-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation.
Orioles at Yankees
Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
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