BALTIMORE—After 19 straight defeats to the New York Yankees, the Orioles have suddenly won two in a row against them. Not only did they beat the Yankees, but they defeated the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, Gerrit Cole.
They they did it behind the pitching of Keegan Akin, who was making his second start, and the bat of rightfielder DJ Stewart, who didn’t have a hit in 17-at bats. Stewart hit two home runs after starting in right field for Anthony Santander, whose season is probably over because of a strained right oblique muscle.
The 6-1 win Saturday night at Camden Yards gives the Orioles an 18-21 record.
“We’re building a nice foundation now,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Some of these guys are starting to feel more comfortable in the big leagues.”
Cole struck out eight of the first nine Orioles he faced, and had a one-hit shutout through five innings.
Stewart led off the sixth with a home run to right, his first hit in 2020.
“It’s very satisfying,” Stewart said. “Any time you start slow, it weighs in the back of your head.”
With one out, Hanser Alberto reached on a throwing error by third baseman Thairo Estrada. With two outs, José Iglesias walked for just the second time this season. Pedro Severino walked to load the bases, and Ryan Mountcastle singled to score Alberto and Iglesias.
Rio Ruiz hit a ball down the right-field line that the ball boy inadvertently fielded. Ruiz was awarded a double, Severino and Mountcastle scored for a 5-0 lead after six.
The five-run inning equaled the biggest of the season for the Orioles.
Akin allowed three hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking four while throwing 91 pitches. Although he didn’t get the win, he outperformed Cole.
“I would say it’s very exciting,” Akin said. “With that caliber of pitcher on the mound, you’ve got to go out there and keep your team in the ballgame and hope they put up runs, like they did.”
Hyde liked what he saw from Akin.
“Really impressed by Keegan Akin’s poise and just how he attacked the lineup,” Hyde said.
Dillon Tate recorded four outs and picked up the win.
Stewart homered to start the seventh, his second of the game, and the Orioles led, 6-0.
After Friday’s second game, Hyde predicted that Stewart would break his slump, and it happened quickly.
Stewart began the season with the Orioles and, after going hitless in 14 at-bats, he was sent back to Bowie when the rosters were reduced from 30 to 28 on August 6th.
“He went to our secondary site, and really put the work in,” Hyde said. “Made some adjustments, made some improvements and came back here with some confidence, and it didn’t happen the first game or two for him, but to see him turn around a Gerrit Cole fastball and hit it for a home run to right, I know that was an amazing feeling for him because the work he’s put in has been outstanding.
“He’s always had a great attitude, too. I know he went down there with a great attitude, with the mindset of getting better and making some improvements, and he’s done that.”
Clint Frazier’s fifth home run in the eighth against Paul Fry was New York’s only run.
Oriole pitchers struck out 12 batters, equaling their season high.
Concern about injuries: Before play began in 2020, Hyde was worried that players would be injured more often than usual in this short season. Santander’s injury in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader drove home that point.
“It was my concern out of summer camp with the legs,” Hyde said.
“I think we’ve done an amazing job of keeping our guys in as good a shape as possible. I think that you’re seeing soft-tissue stuff around the league with position players.
“Whether that’s a quick ramp-up, a long delay, whatever it may be, the intensity. You can’t match a major league baseball game intensity. We’re playing intense games every single night where you see guys going hard, and those things are going to happen. We’re starting to get our fair share now of guys that are a little bit banged up.”
Fry on Orioles bullpen: The trades of Miguel Castro and Mychal Givens this past week leave Fry as the most senior member of the Orioles’ bullpen. He joined the team in June 2018.
“It’s just part of the business,” Fry said. “We kind of all knew that it was coming. We still have to pick each other up. We’ve still got to go out there and do our jobs whether that’s the ninth inning or the fifth or sixth inning. We’re all trying to fit in new roles. It’s going to be exciting to see what happens.”
Roster move: The Orioles optioned David Hess to their alternate site at Bowie after the game. He had been elevated earlier in the day and wasn’t used in the game.
Hyde said the Orioles would announce Sunday’s starter on Sunday.