NEW YORK—After losing six of seven and seeing their lead in the American League wild-card race over the New York Yankees dwindle to two games, the Orioles decided they needed a jolt.
The Orioles added Colton Cowser, their top draft pick in 2021, and hoped he’d provide some energy. Cowser went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the four-run sixth in the Orioles’ 6-3 win over the Yankees before an announced crowd of 36,022 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.
Cowser lined sharply to shortstop in the first inning, grounded to second in the fourth before his RBI single. He walked in the eighth and caught two fly balls in left field.
“It was cool. It was awesome,” Cowser said. “It was a cool ballpark. I kind of soaked it in, and once I did that, I was like, ‘all right, let’s go.’”
After Yankees starter Randy Vásquez threw five scoreless innings, Cedric Mullins doubled with one out against Nick Ramirez (0-1) in the sixth Aaron Hicks grounded behind third. Josh Donaldson made a nice stop and raced to the bag, but Mullins beat him there.
Cowser singled to right for his first hit and RBI, and Michael King replaced Ramirez. Jordan Westburg tripled to center, scoring Hicks and Cowser. Adam Frazier grounded to short, and Anthony Volpe’s throw home wasn’t in time, and the Orioles (50-35) led, 4-2.
“It’s hard not to smile when he’s on the field,” Westburg said about Cowser. “It was a special night, not only for him, but just being united with him … A really special night. I’m so happy for him. Happy that he’s here and we’re both excited and hoping to make an impact.”
Oriole starter Dean Kremer (9-4) struck out a career-high 10 batters in seven innings. He allowed one hit in the first four innings and allowed two runs on four hits.
“That was a start we needed,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “So good and shows you the pitcher he has the ability to be. A tough environment … Outstanding seven innings.”
Kremer enjoyed what he saw on the field.
“These guys are great,” Kremer said. “Westy’s a hell of a player. I only got to see Cowser for a little bit in spring. From what I see in Triple-A in videos, he’s the real deal.”
In the bottom of the fifth, shortstop Gunnar Henderson threw wildly to first after Volpe hit into a force play. His throw struck YES camera operator Pete Shendel. He was attended to by medical personnel and was placed on a cart and driven off the field. He made the peace sign as he left the field. The game was delayed by 17 minutes.
“Every time that a ball goes over the first baseman or even a foul ball from a hitter, you don’t want to see it go towards a fan. It just happened to be in the wrong spot,” Henderson said. “I hope he’s doing all right. My prayers go out to him. I’m just thankful for the guys that rushed over there to him and helped him.
“I’m doing pretty fine. It sucks that it happened to him. Again it’s just trying to play the game hard. Sometimes that happens.”
Donaldson homered to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and after play resumed, Kyle Higashioka’s single scored Volpe, and New York (48-39) led, 2-0.
Volpe homered against reliever Yennier Cano, the first home run he has allowed this season, to begin the eighth. After an infield single by Billy McKinney, Cano recorded two outs then yielded to closer Félix Bautista, who retired Giancarlo Stanton on a fly ball to center.
Ryan O’Hearn hit a two-run home run in the ninth, his seventh, and the Orioles led, 6-3.
With a three-run lead to work with, Bautista polished off the Yankees in the ninth for his 23rd save.
It was the first time, but not the last, that Cowser and Westburg played together for the Orioles.
“I think we both kind of knew there might be an opportunity for us to both be together up here,” Westburg said. “It’s awesome. Where we’re at as a team, we’re just trying to fill the roles we’re asked to and help this club win.
“He’s such a goofball. It’s so hard for me to not smile at him. I’m not a super serious guy. I just don’t smile as much as maybe the next person. He brings it out in me. He knows how to get me to laugh to keep it light.”
Notes: Adley Rutschman will be matched against Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the Home Run Derby on Monday night. … Kyle Bradish (4-4, 3.58) will face Luis Severino (1-3, 6.30) on Thursday night.
Minor league update: Leftfielder Heston Kjerstad and rightfielder Shayne Fontana each had four hits as Triple-A Norfolk beat Durham, 8-3. Kjerstad, who’s hitting .322, hit his fifth home run and Fontana hit two homers. Drew Rom (6-5) allowed one run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out nine.
Chayce McDermott (5-6) allowed four runs in four innings in Double-A Bowie’s 6-2 loss to Richmond. First baseman TT Bowens hit his sixth home run.
High-A Aberdeen had 20 hits in its 16-14 win over Greensboro. Rightfielder Kyle Stowers, who’s rehabbing a shoulder injury, drove in five runs. He had a pair of two-run homers. Catcher Creed Williems drove in four runs and shortstop Jackson Holliday went 5-for-5.
Deivy Cruz (6-1) pitched four scoreless innings in relief, allowing two hits, as Single-A Delmarva beat Fredericksburg, 7-4.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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