While the disappointing performance of the Yankees’ offense has gotten most of the headlines, the starting pitching (excluding Gerrit Cole) hasn’t been much to write home about either. A big part of those struggles has been that Corey Kluber hasn’t looked like the number two he was slotted in as to start the season.
The former Cy Young Award winner came into this game with a 5.40 ERA and arguably worse, he hadn’t lasted past 4.2 innings. We still can’t say he’s been great yet, but Tuesday night was a step in the right direction. Against the Orioles, Kluber went 6.2 innings, allowing just one run on six hits and two walks while striking out five.
It wasn’t just Kluber who showed signs of life, as the offense did as well. DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Kyle Higashioka all had multi-hit games, as the Yankees racked up 12 on the day. The team looked competent in nearly every aspect of the game, as they bounced back with a 5-1 win over the Orioles.
After last night’s mess, the Yankees put up half of their total output from Monday within the first couple batters. LeMahieu led off the game with a double off Orioles starter Bruce Zimmermann, moving to third on a Judge single two batters later. Gio Urshela then flew out, but it was deep enough to plate LeMahieu to give the Yankees the early 1-0 lead.
A couple innings after that, they surpassed their offensive output from last night. In the third, Judge recorded his second hit of the day, and that one went over the fence for a solo homer.
In the fourth, Kyle Higashioka added a solo dinger of his own to make it 3-0. After that, LeMahieu and Stanton both singled, followed by a Judge walk to load the bases, knocking Zimmermann out of the game. That brought Gio Urshela to the plate. He delivered with a single, scoring LeMahieu. Stanton was also weirdly sent home too and was easily thrown out, ending the inning and keeping from the Yankees from adding more.
Kluber was very good through the first three innings, but the Orioles cut into the Yankees’ lead somewhat in the fourth. Trey Mancini led off the inning with a double and then moved to third on a ground out. Maikel Franco plated him with a single to get Baltimore on the board.
The Yankees got that run back a couple innings later. Leading off the seventh inning, Stanton crushed a 434 foot home run off former Yankees prospect Dillon Tate.
Kluber made it through the fifth, surpassing that plateau for the first time all season. He followed that up with a scoreless sixth and then even came back out for the seventh. He departed that inning with two on and two out, as Jonathan Loaisiga came in to clean things up and end the frame. Kluber’s final line on the the day was solid: 6.2 IP, 6 H,1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
Loaisiga worked in and out of trouble in the eighth, and Lucas Luetge threw an easy ninth to seal the 5-1 win.
There’s still a ways to go before we can say the Yankees look like the team we were expecting before the season. However, between the pitching outing of Kluber and a generally good offensive performance, this definitely was a step in the right direction.
Domingo Germán will toe the rubber tomorrow night against the O’s as the Yankees look to jump to a series lead in this four-game set. First pitch is at 7:05pm ET.