NEW YORK — The Orioles aren’t the pushovers they used to be. But the Yankees were up for the battle against the improved O’s on Tuesday night in the Bronx.
Aaron Judge hit a game-tying solo home run with one out in the ninth and Anthony Volpe scored ghost runner/pinch-runner Isiah Kiner-Falefa with a one-out sacrifice fly to deep center in the 10th as the Yankees won their fifth in a row, 6-5, before 40,652.
Michael King (1-1), in his second inning of work, stranded the ghost runner in the top of the 10th by striking out a pair and getting Adam Frazier to line out to a leaping Volpe.
In the bottom of the 10th, Harrison Bader moved Kiner-Falefa to third with a slow grounder to third before the Orioles intentionally walked Willie Calhoun. That brought up Volpe against righthander Bryan Baker.
Volpe, in the 50th game of his rookie season, ended it quickly for his first walkoff RBI.
The Yankees, who rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie it with one in the fourth and three in the fifth, were trailing 5-4 with one out in the ninth when Judge connected against Orioles closer Felix Bautista.
Judge had fallen behind 0-and-2 on pitches that were 101 and 100 miles per hour. The 0-2 pitch was a hanging splitter at 87 mph that Judge deposited into the leftfield seats for his 14th homer of the season.
Judge, on Monday’s off-day, was named the AL Player of the Week for the second time this season. All the reigning AL MVP did last week was hit .500 (11-for-22) with five home runs and a 1.273 OPS.
It wasn’t that long ago when the Yankees used to take the field against the Orioles and feel pretty good about their chances to come away with a victory. But this Baltimore team has the second-best record in baseball (with the second-lowest payroll).
“They're legit,” manager Aaron Boone said. “They're a force to be reckoned with.”
Last year, the Yankees went 12-7 vs. Baltimore. In 2021, it was 11-8. In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Yankees went 7-3. And back in 2019, the Yankees won an astounding 17 of 19 meetings.
The Yankees, who have won 15 of 20, improved to 30-20 (3-1 vs. the O’s). Baltimore fell to 31-17.
Trailing 5-4, the Yankees had a golden chance to tie it in the seventh against Baltimore’s rookie righthander bullpen sensation Yennier Cano, who had allowed one run in 23 2/3 innings coming in.
With runners at first and third and one out, DJ LeMahieu – a noted excellent clutch hitter who was batting cleanup -- fouled off a first-pitch bunt attempt. Odd, right?
Even more odd: LeMahieu bunted again on the next pitch. The ball went back to Cano, who easily threw out Gleyber Torres at the plate. Bader grounded out to end the inning.
Just before LeMahieu’s bunt-o-rama, Torres had cautiously held up at third on Anthony Rizzo’s single to left.
Gerrit Cole was charged with five runs in five-plus innings. Cole picked up his 2,000th career strikeout when he blazed a 97-mile per hour fastball past Jorge Mateo for the final out of the second inning. It was Cole’s second and final strikeout of the night.
The trouble started early when Cole walked back-to-back batters with two outs in the first. Frazier gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead with a double to right off a leaping and falling Judge’s glove on the rightfield warning track.
Cedric Mullins led off the third with a home run. Gunnar Henderson added a solo shot in the fourth to make it 4-0. Cole, who did not allow a home run in his first seven starts, has given up six in his last four.
Bader led off the bottom of the fourth with his fifth home run to get the Yankees on the board against starter Kyle Bradish.
The Yankees tied the game at 4 in the fifth on Rizzo’s two-run double and an RBI single by LeMahieu (who was not bunting).
But the first two batters singled for the Orioles in the sixth and that was it for Cole. Ron Marinaccio struck out Austin Hays, but Henderson reached on an infield single to load the bases and the Orioles took a 5-4 lead on Terrin Vavra’s slow grounder to first.