BALTIMORE – Yankees vs. Orioles in 2019 was competitive in the same sense Yankees vs. Twins in any postseason is competitive.
Meaning, not at all.
The Yankees went 17-2 against Baltimore last season and hit 61 homers in the process, setting an MLB record for home runs vs. one opponent in a single season.
They’re off and bombing once again.
With DJ LeMahieu setting the tone with a homer on the second pitch of the night, the Yankees went deep three times to back another terrific Gerrit Cole outing in a 9-3 victory over the Orioles Wednesday night in their home opener at Camden Yards.
The blasts – Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks and also hit them – provided plenty of support for Cole, who won for the second time in as many starts as a Yankee and extended his career-long winning streak to 18 straight.
Cole, signed to a record nine-year $324 million contract over the winter, entered the night 17-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his previous 23 starts. In No. 24, the righthander allowed three runs and four hits over 6 2/3 innings.
After allowing a one-out RBI double in the first to Jose Iglesias, Cole all but toyed with the Orioles. He did not allow another hit until Renato Nunez’s two-out double in the seventh. Dwight Smith Jr. followed with a two-run homer to right – making it 7-3 – and Pedro Severino doubled, making Cole’s final line not quite as impressive as his night actually was. Before the Nunez double, Cole had retired 14 straight and 19 of 20 batters. Cole, his fastball again sitting in the 96-99 mph range and with devastating breaking pitches, walked two and struck out seven.
Neither Cole nor his teammates appeared the least bit rusty though, in truth, they probably could not have hand-picked a better opponent for the circumstances.
The Yankees (3-1) were playing a game for the first time since Sunday as their two-game series that was supposed to start in Philadelphia Monday night was wiped out because of the COVID-19 outbreak that occurred on the Marlins – the team that preceded the Yankees in Philadelphia. The schedule was rejiggered, leading to the Yankees coming to Baltimore for two games against the Orioles (2-2).
It took the Yankees, who outhit the Orioles 8-5, two pitches to get on the board.
After taking a first-pitch strike from overmatched O’s righthander Asher Wojciechowski, LeMahieu took a 93-mph fastball onto the porch in right for the leadoff man’s first homer of the season. LeMahieu had four hits, finishing a triple away from the cycle.
The home run made the inning part of the usual fare of a Yankees/Orioles game, but what followed was unusual. After LeMahieu’s homer, Judge reached on a catcher’s interference charged to Pedro Severino on the fifth pitch of his plate appearance. Gleyber Torres struck out but Stanton reached on a second catcher’s interference, also on the fifth pitch of his plate appearance. A walk to Hicks loaded the bases and Mike Ford, getting the start at first, got Judge home with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 2-0. Wojciechowski did well to keep it there, ending the 31-pitch inning by striking out Gary Sanchez.
Cole, who picked up the victory with five innings of one-hit ball in a 4-1 rain-shortened season-opening victory over the Nationals last Thursday night, was not immediately sharp. He walked leadoff man Austin Hayes and, clearly irritated, came back to strike out Anthony Santander swinging at a diving curveball. But Iglesias lined a 1-and-2, 96-mph fastball just over Judge’s head in the gap in right-center, the RBI double making it 2-1. Cole settled right away, striking out Rio Ruiz swinging at a 98-mph fastball.
Judge led off the third by driving a 1-and-2 fastball to right for his first homer of the season. A one-out walk to Stanton led to Hicks stepping into a first-pitch, 92-mph fastball and launching it well over the wall in right for his first homer, the two-run shot making it 5-1.