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Yankees play home-run derby, beat Orioles 8-5

Bombers back up Paxton’s solid effort in game one victory.

MLB: Game One-Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the Orioles won the first series of the season and everyone freaked out? That was weird. The Yankees have since demolished the O’s, winning every game against them to date. The Bombers continued their stretch of good fortune against the Birds in game one of Monday’s doubleheader, besting them by a score of 8-5.

The Yankees entered the afternoon’s game having hit 52 home runs against the Orioles this season. The Bombers padded that total with four more long balls, and they wasted little time doing so. Didi Gregorius got things started in the first inning with a three-run bomb off Gabriel Ynoa, before Gleyber Torres added a solo shot. That’s his 11th home run in 15 games against Baltimore, further lending credence to the Gleyber Hates Orange hypothesis.

Gio Urshela hit the Yankees’ third home run of the afternoon in the fifth inning, a solo moonshot into the left-field bleachers. The ball traveled 461 feet and marked Urshela’s 18th homer of the season. Now stop right here and read that last sentence again. I can’t figure out which clause is stranger: the fact Urshela has an 18-homer season or that he’s now hitting tape-measure bombs. Either way, this gave the Yankees a 6-2 lead.

Cameron Maybin finished the home-run party by going yard off Ynoa in the sixth inning. He hit a solo homer as well, resulting in a 7-3 lead for the Bombers. Maybin is now hitting .319/.396/.542 with eight home runs (147 wRC+) over 55 games with the Yankees.

The Yankees plated two runs without a long ball in this game. Brett Gardner hit a hustle-double in the second inning with two outs. Urshela then followed with a double of his own to score Gardner and collect an RBI. Gregorius also narrowly missed his second three-run homer of the game in the in the seventh inning, but settled for a sacrifice fly to make it an 8-3 game. The bats came alive in a big way and it turns out that firepower was needed.

On the pitching side of the game, James Paxton’s first-inning woes returned on Monday afternoon. It took the left-hander 29 pitches to complete the frame. He allowed a run on a pair of hits by Hanser Alberto and Anthony Santander, as well as a sacrifice fly by Renato Nunez. It looked like another Paxton start would go off the rails from the get-go. He largely settled down, though, allowing only two more runs—both on solo homers—in six innings of work.

In the third inning, Trey Mancini hit a two-out solo home run with two strikes off Paxton. Big Maple didn’t even make a bad pitch; he climbed the ladder and hit his spot! Mancini just went upstairs and swatted it into the right-field seats.

That’s more on Mancini for taking a great swing than Paxton making a bad pitch. The other run off Paxton was a more conventional solo homer off the bat of Santander in the sixth inning.

The left-hander finished the day having allowed three runs over six innings. He scattered five hits along with two walks and seven strikeouts. Paxton continued to emphasize his secondary pitches. Of his 107 total pitches, 38 of them went for offspeed stuff. That count includes 27 knuckle-curves! He did an especially nice job of keeping those pitches away from the heart of the plate.

Credit: Baseball Savant

Today’s outing lowered Paxton’s ERA and FIP to 4.40 and 4.37, respectively. While those numbers would leave one disappointed without context, it’s reassuring to see Big Maple turn in three consecutive solid starts. The Bombers will need him to perform down the stretch and in the postseason, and one can see that he’s slowly turning a corner here.

After Tommy Kahnle worked a scoreless seventh, the Yankees called upon Luis Cessa to record the final six outs. Instead, he retired exactly one batter and twice loaded the bases. Aaron Boone had to call upon Zack Britton after Cessa allowed one run to score, reloaded the bases, and brought the go-ahead run to the plate. Britton allowed one of the inherited runners to score, but he escaped the jam with the Yankees holding an 8-5 lead. Aroldis Chapman closed things out with a scoreless ninth, securing the win for the Bombers.

First pitch of game two is schedule for 7:05 PM. The Yankees will employ a bullpen game with Chad Green as the opener. Ty Blach, meanwhile, will start for the Orioles.

Box Score