Aaron Judge blasted a three-run home run in the top of the ninth to bail out J.A. Happ and Jonathan Loaisiga, as the Yankees bested the Baltimore Orioles, 8-6.
After the bullpen had blown the lead in the bottom of the eighth, Gio Urshela led off the top of the ninth with a walk. Following a Mike Tauchman fly out, DJ LeMahieu singled to put runners on first and second. As the broadcast booth wondered why the Yankees were not pinch-running for Urshela, Judge — who had struck out in his three previous at-bats — made the entire conversation moot by sending a 413-foot moonshot to left, 107 MPH off the bat.
Into the night. #AllRise pic.twitter.com/iS08ex016t— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 31, 2020
The Yankees got on the board earlier, taking advantage of a rocky start by Baltimore starter John Means to take an early 5-0 lead in the top of the first. Means struggled out of the gate, hitting both Judge and Gleyber Torres to put two runners on after LeMahieu led off the game with a groundout to shortstop. Following a Giancarlo Stanton RBI single that he drilled 117 MPH, Aaron Hicks walked to load the bases — narrowly avoiding a HBP of his own! Voit then came up to the plate, and hammered a 2-1 pitch.
Needed a hit with some Hop in it. pic.twitter.com/nrL3MVGd7C— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 30, 2020
His second home run of the season and first grand slam of his career, Voit hammered that one 398 feet with a 97.8 MPH exit velocity.
Stanton continued his hot start with three hits of his own. In addition to his first-inning RBI single, he had two other hits that Statcast registered as “hard hit” — a 116 MPH single in the third and a 95 MPH double in the fifth. He is now batting .533, with a 1.678 OPS, and his average exit velocity is 98 MPH. If he can ride out his hot start, he becomes an instant front-runner for both Comeback Player of the Year and AL MVP.
Not everything was good for the Yankees, however. Happ struggled in his season debut, giving up four runs on four hits in just four innings, including two-run home runs to Hanser Alberto and Rio Ruiz. A lengthy rain delay held up the game midway through the sixth, when Loaisiga came in from the ‘pen. Loaisiga battled through the sixth, walking the first two batters he faced, but managed to record a clean seventh. He was tasked with going another inning however, and that’s where things feel apart. Loaisiga hit Anthony Santander, putting the tying run on base, and promptly gave up a two-run homer to Pedro Severino.
Furthermore, although initially remaining in the game after being hit in the elbow, Torres eventually was removed in the 4th inning, with Tyler Wade coming in to play shortstop. X-Rays on Torres’ elbow came back negative, but expect the Yankees to be cautious with their star shortstop.
Despite blowing the lead, Jonathan Loaisiga receives credit for the win, his first on the year, while Cole Sulser gets tagged with the loss, the first of his career; Zack Britton earns his second save of the season. With the win, the Yankees improve to 4-1, and extend their winning streak against the Orioles to 18 games, and an incredible 16 straight in Camden Yards. To put this in perspective, the last Orioles pitcher to earn a win against the Yankees in Baltimore was Zack Britton, back when he spelled his name “Zach.”
The Yankees will be back in action tonight against the Red Sox, in what should finally be the 2020 home opener. Jordan Montgomery will be recalled from the alternate training site to make his season debut — he pitched well in both spring training and summer camp, and he’ll look to put his 2018 Tommy John surgery behind him. Ryan Weber will get the ball for the Red Sox. In his first start of the season, he could not make it out of the 4th inning against Baltimore, giving up six runs on six hits (including a pair home runs), walking three and striking out none. He has made three relief appearances against the Yankees in his five-year career, giving up two runs in 6.1 innings (a 2.84 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.