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Yankees 3, Orioles 5: Cole’s day is tarnished by a weak final inning

New York dropped a Sunday spring matinee to the O’s at home in Tampa.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Orioles beat the Yankees by a score of 5-3 on Sunday with some help from the wind. What was supposed to be a regular fly out turned out to be the biggest blip on Gerrit Cole’s day, as the right-hander gave up a three-run homer in the fifth inning that proved to be the decisive blow.

It was a tale of two very different lineups this afternoon. The Yankees entered the game at nearly full strength, using this opportunity to rotate positions, with Aaron Judge getting the day off from fielding at DH, as Giancarlo Stanton took his place in right field with Oswaldo Cabrera and Aaron Hicks rounding out the outfield. DJ LeMahieu stepped in at second with Gleyber Torres not yet back from the WBC following Venezuela’s elimination on Saturday.

The Orioles, however, had the majority of their top bats facing the Pirates in a split-squad day for their team, with a lineup comprised of primarily bench bats and prospects going up against the Yankees ace. Nonetheless, they would emerge victorious.

As Cole continues to ramp up toward an Opening Day start, the right-hander is going deeper into games in his spring, as evidenced by the 81 pitches he threw this afternoon. For the first four frames, he was doing exactly what you would expect against a lineup with Kyle Stowers and Ryan O’Hearn at the three-four spots.

Cole dominated through the first four frames with six punchouts, but then came the fifth inning, and a perfect storm to sort of blow up his line. Jordan Westburg led off the inning reaching base after a hit by pitch, and was followed by a base on balls to highly touted prospect outfielder, Colton Cowser. The ace then struck out Daz Cameron (who had tripled in the third), and was set to face the No. 9 hitter, Anthony Bemboom.

Despite the apparent mismatch, Cole gave up a three-run shot to the Orioles' backstop. It was a fly ball that had a .180 xBA and should’ve been an out, but as beat writer Bryan Hoch noted, the wind carried the ball over the fence:

To Cole’s credit, he refused to credit the wind for the homer after the game, correctly noting that given Yankee Stadium’s identical dimensions, “that’s probably going out every time.”

Franchy Cordero and Kyle Stowers tacked on another run after that with a single and an RBI double, respectively, on two scorched balls — well over 100 mph. Overall, Cole left the mound with five innings of work, having allowed four earned runs on six hits, with seven strikeouts. Interestingly enough, his sole walk of the day was his first this spring.

Manager Aaron Boone gave the ball to Albert Abreu, Jimmy Cordero, Ron Marinaccio, and Nick Ramirez for an inning each, with only Marinaccio conceding a run in the eighth (despite striking out the side).

On the offensive side of the ball, LeMahieu had a good day out of the leadoff spot, a position he should fill out with some frequency during the season. He went 2-for-3 with a hard-hit ball in each of his plate appearances.

New York scored one run against Tyler Wells, who went 3.2 innings, and a couple more on Spenser Watkins (one of them unearned). The latter came in after the fourth inning and went another four frames of his own. Cabrera had the lone RBI hit on the day for the Yankees, singling home Anthony Rizzo in the sixth.

The Yankees will be off the air again tomorrow, though that’s because they’re simply not playing. They’ll return to the diamond (and the screens) on Tuesday afternoon, when they host the Tigers at GMS Field at 1:05pm ET on YES.

Box Score