BALTIMORE — For one night at least, James Paxton solved his first-inning difficulties.
For what seems an infinite number of nights this season, the Yankees solved Orioles pitching.
With Paxton throwing a standout 6 2/3 innings and the offense erupting mid-game, the Yankees cruised to their eighth straight victory in a 14-2 thrashing of the Orioles Wednesday night at Camden Yards, a ballpark the Yankees will be depressed to be done playing in this year.
“Man, we sure can hit, can’t we?” Paxton said. “Holy smokes. These guys are on fire.”
The Yankees (75-39), who bumped their AL East lead over the Rays to 10 games, improved to 13-2 vs. the Orioles (38-76) this season, including 10-0 at Camden Yards (where they’ve won 15 straight overall).
The Yankees, after going deep five times Monday and six times Tuesday, tagged Orioles pitching for five more Wednesday, giving them 43 homers in 10 games at Camden Yards and 52 homers total vs. Baltimore in 2019. Kyle Higashioka’s three-run homer highlighted a four-run fourth and he added a two-run blast in the ninth that made it 14-1. Gio Urshela went 3-for-5, including two homers that gave him 14, with four RBIs, and Cameron Maybin hit one out as part of his 4-for-5, two-RBI night.
“I was 100 percent, I was ready since Monday,” said Urshela, who sat the previous two days after resting his right knee and left shin, which he hit with foul balls during the same at-bat Sunday night. “(I’m) seeing the ball good.”
Urshela’s first homer, a two-run shot in the fifth off Miguel Castro that made it 6-1 and made the streaking third baseman 17-for-his-last 36, put the Yankees in the record book. It gave them 49 homers vs. the Orioles this season, the most ever hit by a team against a single opponent, breaking the record of 48 hit by the 1956 Yankees vs. the Kansas City A’s.
“We’ve got guys that are capable of that,” Aaron Boone said of the record. “And they’ve done a good job of taking advantage of some mistakes. Seems like everyone up and down our lineup had their fair share and they’ve capitalized, especially over here.”
Paxton (7-6) allowed one run and five hits Wednesday in what was his second-longest outing of the season (he went eight innings April 16 against the Red Sox).
The 30-year-old lefthander struck out seven and walked one in lowering his ERA to 4.40 from 4.61.
“I thought Higgy (Higashioka) did a great job back there mixing pitches, using the curveball and slowing guys down, then using that fastball up as well,” said Paxton, who has made a point his last two outings of using his off-speed pitches more. “I think mixing speeds, giving guys a different look…helps for sure.”
The game was actually scoreless going into the fourth, but the Yankees scored four runs that inning, two in the next one and five in the sixth.
After batting in the sixth, the Yankees led 11-1 and had, at that point, 12 hits compared to three for the Orioles.
Paxton, who brought an 11.37 first-inning ERA this season into the night, pitched a perfect 1-2-3, 13-pitch first Wednesday. It marked the first time since July 2 (at the Mets) that Paxton didn’t allow a run in the first inning and the first time since June 21 vs. the Astros that he didn’t allow a baserunner in the first.
Paxton had allowed a first-inning homer in four straight games coming in, with 11 of his 19 homers allowed this season coming in the opening inning.
“It’s been really good,” said Paxton, who has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his last seven starts. “Definitely going in the direction that I want to go.”