It’s been remarked upon at other points this season, but these Orioles are not the Orioles of last year, or 2020. Since calling up Adley Rutchsman, they are 30-22, now actually 31-22, with a pitching staff that’s better than you’d expect, top to bottom. That staff snuffed out multiple scoring opportunities for the Yankees, who couldn’t buy the big hit, and Baltimore came out on top tonight, 6-3.
The Yankees got off and running early, with Aaron Judge driving in DJ LeMahieu on the seventh pitch of the game, a hard bouncer down the third-base line that Judge turned into an RBI double. Gerrit Cole had a lead before he even took the ball, and that lead grew in the second, thanks to who else but the Greatest Baseball Player of All Time:
We’re talking a lot about how to put together a package for Juan Soto and how that might disrupt the farm system, but we need to talk a lot about how a trade for Soto would disrupt Matt Carpenter’s playing time. Judge added another run on a bloop hit to center, and boy did the baseball gods not care for the bloop, as they would make the Yankees pay, and then some, for the BABIP luck.
We’ll get to that payback in a minute, but Cole wasn’t in ace form tonight. He got ahead of just about every hitter, but struggled to put away guys after that — not the kind of problem he usually suffers from, where we’d expect a homer or two on an early pitch in the zone. The Orioles managed two walks and three hits with two strikes — a time when Cole’s all-world stuff plays up more than most.
Although in fairness, while the stuff was there, the feel was not:
Cole’s slider was problematic today. There’s that little cluster down and away from righties, but there were too many easy takes and too many of them left over the middle of the plate, and correspondingly, he gave up four hits on the night (two of them doubles). This happens, as guys can sometimes not have a feel for their stuff, but when it’s a pitch that Cole relies on as much as his slider, it can get real ugly in a hurry.
Still, Cole had a 3-2 lead headed into the seventh inning, and it really seemed like he wanted the ball. With a beat-up bullpen, Aaron Boone let Cole start the seventh, where a double from Ramón Urías to lead off the inning put the tying run on. Jorge Mateo’s single — the second bloop RBI single recorded by the O’s, beating the Yankees in that column by one — tied the game, and Cole’s night was done.
Enter Albert Abreu, who promptly spiked the ball on a pickoff attempt, letting Mateo advance all the way to third, where he came in on Cedric Mullins’ sac fly, and the O’s were finally ahead, where they would stay. Urías added a two-run shot off Shane Greene in the eighth, a rude welcome to Greene’s return to a Yankee uniform. They were the tack-on runs that New York could just never manage to produce..
Those runs loomed large in the ninth, where LeMahieu and Judge both reached to lead off the inning. Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, and Josh Donaldson couldn’t make anything happen, though, with Gleyber’s duck snort caught — more baseball god revenge — and Donaldson going down looking to end the game.
The rubber match comes tomorrow, and it’s not a must win, but after the doubleheader Thursday and the loss of so much pitching depth, a big win would feel very good going into the off day Monday. Nestor Cortes, fresh off his All-Star appearance, will look to deliver that win, with first pitch at 1:35pm Eastern.