Whew, that was one that almost got away. The Yankees battled from behind early to tie the game and then needed another big blast in the ninth to send it to extras. Thankfully, their captain obliged, as Aaron Judge’s solo shot allowed Michael King and Anthony Volpe to lead New York to a 10-inning victory over the division rival Orioles, 6-5.
Gerrit Cole giving up two runs in the first inning isn’t the end of the world. It was a little bit worrisome when he seemingly lost command of his fastball for a few batters after retiring the first two hitters of the first inning, walking Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle on seven pitches each. It was more unfortunate that his two-strike slider to Adam Frazier caught too much of the plate, and landed just out of reach of Aaron Judge’s glove to put the Yankees in a 2-0 hole.
Still, Cole is the type of pitcher who can still give you six or seven lockdown innings after getting dinged early. It wouldn’t be the first time. So even when the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on a pair of leadoff walks by Kyle Bradish, it didn’t necessarily feel like the game was getting away early. The Yankees ace notched a personal milestone along the way too, as he recorded his 2,000th career strikeout in the second inning.
As the night went on and wildlife invaded the outfield, the Yankees’ lineup managed to chip away against Bradish, who made it through five innings, but Baltimore’s offense was able to do the same. Harrison Bader put the Yankees on the board with an opposite-field dinger in the fourth inning, but not before Cedric Mullins and Gunnar Henderson had already spoken with solo shots of their own.
As one can see in the linked O’s homers, the first inning unfortunately turned out to be predictive, and Cole simply didn’t have good control today. He repeatedly hung pitches over the plate—getting punished for it by Frazier, Mullins, and Henderson—and never developed consistent feel for his release point on the four-seam fastball. He sprayed it all over the place and repeatedly putting himself in deep and disadvantageous counts:
Nonetheless, the opposing pitcher was still Kyle Bradish, and a flurry of hits from Oswaldo Cabrera, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Rizzo, and DJ LeMahieu tied the game at four in the fifth inning almost with a snap of the fingers.
There was hope that Cole could still get them through six innings, but back-to-back singles for Mountcastle and Frazier to open the sixth ended his night, the third time in four tries that his night has ended after an even five frames. Ron Marinaccio, who seemed to have righted the ship his last two times out after a rough series of outings, couldn’t prevent the runners from moving into scoring positions, ultimately letting one score on an RBI groundout off the bat of Terrin Vavra. Mullins gave everyone a scare with a deep fly out in the direction of the short porch after Marinaccio walked Jorge Mateo to load the bases for the second time in the inning, but managed to keep the damage to one run.
Marinaccio settled down in his second inning of work, setting down the heart of Baltimore’s lineup 1-2-3, but with a one-run lead, Baltimore’s formidable bullpen set in, starting with a scoreless inning from Mychal Givens. In their half of the seventh, the Yankees threatened to become just the second team all year to put a run on Yennier Cano. However, a truly disastrous failed safety squeeze called by DJ LeMahieu left Gleyber Torres, who had singled to start the inning and advanced to third base on a bloop single from Anthony Rizzo, a dead duck at home plate.
Cano worked through the next inning without issue to lower his ERA to 0.35 on the year, the best in the majors.
Wandy Peralta and Michael King did their jobs in keeping the game at one run with aplomb, but things looked bleak until the MVP stepped to the plate with one out in the ninth against fearsome Orioles closer Félix Bautista. The MVP did MVP things, and the game was tied at five all:
King bore down fantastically in the top of the 10th, striking out the first two hitters of the inning with the Manfred runner in scoring position before inducing a soft line out to end the frame.
Then in the New York half of the inning, things finally swung their way as they eyed a walk-off victory. The Yankees ultimately took their first lead of the game at the very end, when Harrison Bader moved Manfred man Isiah Kiner-Falefa to third base with a groundout before Anthony Volpe ended matters with a deep fly ball to center field.
Mark that down as the rookie’s first career walk-off blow. It might have just been a sacrifice fly, but he won’t care a lick and it was a very nice piece of hitting to lift that ball in the air anyway.
It’s the Yankees 30th win of the season, and with Tampa Bay’s blowout 20-1 loss at the hands of the Blue Jays, they’re now just five games back of first place in the AL East, and two back of the Orioles, who they’ll play again tomorrow evening, once again at 7:05 PM ET. Nestor Cortes takes the ball for the Yankees looking for his fifth win of the year, while the O’s will attempt to bounce back with righty Tyler Wells. See you there!