BALTIMORE—Bruce Zimmermann wasn’t the starter after his recall from Norfolk, and he was put into a difficult spot. He started the second inning after the Yankees scored four in the first against Adam Plutko. Zimmermann was up to the task.
He pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up just one run, a home run to Aaron Judge, on a 3-1 pitch after the home plate umpire appeared to miss a strike with the count 2-and-1. Zimmermann gave the Orioles a chance to to come back, which they did with six extra-base hits in their 10-6 win over the New York Yankees before 11,070 at Oriole Park on Sunday.
The Orioles (17-23) had lost seven of eight and the first two of their three-game series against the Yankees.
Manager Brandon Hyde decided to start Plutko, who’d been strong in relief, instead of Zimmermann, who was recalled Sunday morning, because the Yankees are mostly a right-handed hitting team.
The Yankees (22-18) pounded Plutko, who began the inning with a 1.27.ERA, for four runs.
DJ LeMahieu led off with a walk. Luke Voit and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases. Gio Urshela grounded to third baseman Maikel Franco, who began a 5-3 double play, which allowed LeMahieu to score.
Gary Sanchez hit a two-run home run, his fifth, and Clint Frazier followed with his fourth, and New York had a 4-0 lead. Plutko’s ERA zoomed to 2.82.
“It was established beforehand, that was the idea, to get through the top of the lineup once so I only had to face them twice,” Zimmermann said. “I didn’t change my mindset. I was coming in, and I was prepared to go starter amount of innings.
“I definitely don’t have an issue with that. It was nice to come in and go at them right away. An interesting approach, I’m all for it if we have to do it again.”
Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery walked Trey Mancini with two outs in the bottom of the first. Mancini scored on Ryan Mountcastle’s double, and Pedro Severino singled to score Mountcastle to cut the Yankees’ lead to 4-2. Both hits were to right field.
Zimmermann, who was optioned on May 3rd so that the Orioles could limit his innings, had a quick 1-2-3 second inning but gave up Judge’s 12th home run of the season, his fourth this weekend and seventh against the Orioles in 2021, with one out in the third. The home run traveled 443 feet.
In 5 2/3 innings, Zimmermann (2-3) gave up just the one run, two hits, struck out six and walked one. He was told on Thursday that he’d be coming back to pitch on Sunday.
“I think it definitely helps,” Zimmermann said of his time away. He threw three innings at Norfolk. “It gave me time to step back and really identify some things that I wanted to focus on, to do better up here, but work on down there. I think it was great to get down there to and work on those things.”
The Orioles tied the score at 5 in the third. Austin Hays doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch. Mancini walked, and Hays scored on Mountcastle’s fly ball to left.
Maikel Franco, who had been 4-for-52 before his first-inning single, doubled to right to score Mancini, who moved to second on a wild pitch by Montgomery. Franco scored on Freddy Galvis’ single to tie it.
The Orioles took a 6-5 lead against Michael King (0-1) in the fourth on doubles by Cedric Mullins and Mancini.
Franco’s two-run home run in the seventh, his fourth, and his first since April 25th, gave the Orioles an 8-5 lead. It was Franco’s second three-hit game of the season.
Mountcastle, who had been hitless in his last 14 at-bats, had a two-run single up the middle in the eighth to make it 10-5. He drove in four runs for the first time in his major league career.
It was the Orioles’ second game of the year in which they scored at least 10 runs. In Zimmermann’s first start of the season on April 4th, they beat Boston, 11-3.
“I thought today was our best offensive approach we had, maybe since the beginning of the season, maybe all year,” Hyde said. “The majority of our damage was done up the middle, the other way. Besides the Franco homer to the pull side, we really stayed on the ball well today.”
Tanner Scott relieved Zimmermann and struck out LeMahieu to end the seventh. Scott allowed a single to Luke Voit and walked Judge to begin the eighth. Paul Fry relieved him and got Gio Urshela to hit into a double play and struck out Sanchez.
César Valdez pitched the ninth, allowing a run on three hits.
Notes: Infielder Ramón Urias was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Zimmermann. … Pitching coach Chris Holt, who is also the team’s director of pitching, remains on personal leave. Bullpen coach and assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes has been filling in and Tim Cossins, the major league field coordinator and catching instructor, has been in the bullpen. … The Orioles are off on Monday and open a three-game series with Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. … Hyde said that Jorge López, who allowed five runs in two innings on Saturday night, will remain in the rotation, and Zimmermann could re-enter it. … All three games this weekend were sellouts, and Sunday’s was the largest crowd of the season. … Mullins has a 10-game hitting streak.