NEW YORK—It was the strangest pitching line of the season. In six innings, Jorge López allowed one run on one hit, yet he walked five and hit a batter.
Most important, López got his first win since June 6th, breaking a streak of nine winless starts as the Orioles backed him with four solo home runs on their way to a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees before 28,879 at Yankee Stadium Monday night.
“Just really proud of him. The guy’s been dealing with a ton,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
The stadium was abuzz before the game because it was the first home game for new Yankees Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, obtained at the trade deadline in the hopes they’d jumpstart the team.
The Yankees also picked up a new starting pitcher, Andrew Heaney from the Los Angeles Angels, and he served up the four homers.
Cedric Mullins smacked his 18th and Austin Hays immediately followed with his 11th in the third. It was the fourth time the Orioles hit back-to-back home runs this year, the second time by Mullins and Hays.
Ryan Mountcastle led off the fourth with his 18th home run. Two batters later, Ramón Urías hit his fifth to give the Orioles (38-67) a 4-0 lead.
“That was our most complete game of the year,” Hyde said. He acknowledged that there were too many walks but cited the baserunning, the defense and the situational hitting. And the gritty pitching of Lopez, in particular. “It was nice to have a little bit of a lead for him to attack the strike zone … We just did a lot of good things tonight.”
López (3-12) hit Rizzo with a pitch with one out in the first and balked him to second. With two outs, he walked Gallo, but Giancarlo Stanton grounded to third to end the inning.
In the second, López walked Gary Sánchez with one out, and Brett Gardner with two outs. A groundout by DJ LeMahieu ended the inning.
López recorded two 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth. But in the fifth, he walked Torres and Gardner. Both moved up a base on LeMahieu’s fly to center, and Torres scored on Rizzo’s foul fly to left that Hays caught up against the wall. Lopez lost his shutout before issuing his first hit.
In the sixth, the Orioles took a 6-1 lead as Joely Rodriguez, who came along with Gallo from Texas, gave up a single to Anthony Santander, whom he balked to second. Urías walked, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch.
Pedro Severino and Maikel Franco delivered sacrifice flies, and the Orioles had a five-run lead.
López pitched at least six innings for the fourth time this year and for just the second time since June 6th.
“Everyone is aware of the struggles that he’s had,” Mullins said of Lopez. “Going into some of the later innings, the fourth, fifth. He’s always had command of all of his pitches. Today he was able to keep command to all his pitches and keep damage to a minimum.”
Gallo doubled to lead off the sixth for the Yankees’ first hit. López retired the next three batters to end his night.
“It was good progress,” López said. “I was aggressive. I just never gave up today. The guys played great defense.”
Torres singled against César Valdez to start the seventh. Gardner walked, and LeMahieu hit into a double play. Paul Fry struck out Rizzo looking to end the seventh.
Yankee Stadium has not been a friendly place for the Orioles in recent years. Their win on April 7th snapped a club record 12 straight losses. Now, they’ve won two straight.
“it just feels different because we got a big-time start, and we scored some runs early,” Hyde said.
He appreciates that it’s a difficult environment for his young team.
“This is a major payroll team with superstars and guys that make a ton of dough for a reason,” Hyde said. “It’s a tough place to play. We played super scrappy tonight.”
Mountcastle and Santander singled to begin the eighth against Albert Abreu. It was Mountcastle’s third hit. He scored from third when Urías grounded into a double play.
In the bottom of the eighth, play was interrupted for several minutes when a cat rain on the field and perched near the Orioles’ bullpen. After security guards ran onto the field, the cat attempted to climb into the Orioles’ bullpen, but couldn’t scramble up the glass. Eventually, the cat found an open door and went into the stands. Fans chanted MVP as it eluded guards who were clearly overmatched.
“I was wondering what everyone was waiting for,” Hyde said. “A pitcher sitting on the mound with Aaron Judge at the plate…The cat showed some good quickness and agility and vertical.”
Notes: Alexander Wells (1-1, 5.28 ERA) will pitch for the Orioles on Tuesday night. Gerrit Cole was supposed to pitch for the Yankees, but he tested positive for Covid-19, manager Aaron Boone announced after the game. … Mullins had two stolen bases. He has 20 steals to go with his 18 home runs.
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