Aaron Judge and Anthony Volpe power Yanks to win over O’s despite Gerrit Cole’s tough night – The Denver Post

Just before the Yankees began a three-game series with the No. 2 Orioles, Aaron Boone pointed out that he believed the American League East rival was real.

“They’re a really good team,” Boone said when asked about Baltimore, a constant basement dweller not too long ago. The Yankees manager went on to describe a “front line offense” while praising the Orioles’ defense, running and throwing. “They’re legit,” Boone continued. “They are a force to be reckoned with.

“They are a problem.”

They certainly were on Tuesday, especially for Gerrit Cole. All of the O’s runs went to the ace in Game 1 of the series, but the Yankees still managed a 6-5 victory after 10 innings.

The comeback wouldn’t have been possible without the fearsome Aaron Judge, who provided ninth-inning heroism when he smashed an tying homer against the Orioles closer to Felix Bautista.

“It’s not good odds there when you’re 0-2 against one of the best closes right now,” Boone said. “Fortunately, he left a separation and [Judge] didn’t miss it. But yes, it is remarkable. I mean, he’s the best player in the world right now and he keeps showing you why all the time.

Then came Anthony Volpe, whose sacrificial 10th-inning volley gave the Yankees a victory against a team leading them in the division – and spared Cole after a poor performance.

“I wanted the opportunity,” Volpe said, “and I was excited.”

Sandwiched between the pivot points was a leaping catch from Volpe, which carried the Yankees out of the top of the 10th unscathed. Judge and Anthony Rizzo, meanwhile, celebrated Volpe’s first career outing by throwing a cooler at a rookie they mentored.

“Rizzo and I were very excited,” Judge said. “We couldn’t let him down without some water.”

Long before that, the scoring started in the first when Adam Frazier capitalized on a pair of two-out walks with a two-run double on Cole. The Orioles added two more runs in the third and fourth innings, respectively, when Cedric Mullins and Gunnar Henderson each hit solo home runs with Cole on the mound.

Baltimore scored a fifth run in the sixth inning thanks to a defenseman pick. Ron Marinaccio was on then, but the run went to Cole after he started with two runs and no outs.

“Things were pretty good, but the command wasn’t good enough,” Cole said. “I thought we were too often uncompetitive out of the zone, thus losing leverage. And I thought overall they were super disciplined in their approach and put good swings on the pitches that they should have, and they were able to lay off good pitches and mess up good pitches as well. They fought and had a good night.

Cole recorded the 2,000th strikeout of his career when Jorge Mateo stoked the second, becoming the third fastest to reach the milestone in terms of innings pitched and games played. He joined an elite company doing it.

While Cole called the milestone a “pretty special achievement”, its overall exit left him “pretty depressed” until Judge’s home run. Cole struck out just the two batters he needed to reach that round number, and he walked three while allowing six hits and five for 99 pitches.

Cole also replied succinctly “no” when asked if there was a problem with his thumb. YES Network cameras showed him taking care of it before the game.

The Yankees battled to get Cole back, starting with a solo shot from Harrison Bader in the fourth. Round five also featured an RBI double from Rizzo, an RBI single from DJ LeMahieu and a sacrifice fly from Bader, which tied the game at four at the time.

The Yankees had another chance to tie the game at five in the seventh, but a questionable bunt decision dashed those hopes.

With runners in the corners and an out, LeMahieu tapped a pitch from Yennier Cano directly onto the mound. Third runner Gleyber Torres broke for the plate, but Cano lined the ball up with ease before returning it home. The coin toss beat Torres in due time and ultimately killed the Bombers’ chances of rallying to one of baseball’s best relievers.

If it hadn’t been for Judge and Volpe in the final innings — and the bullpen, including two scoreless innings by Michael King to close it — the Yankees would have frustratingly lost. Instead, they’ll be looking to secure a series win on Wednesday.

“It’s just, I feel like, how we’ve been playing the last few weeks,” Volpe said of the Yankees fight. “No one flinched, no one blinked.”

Game 2 of this divisional matchup features Nestor Cortes and Tyler Wells on the mound. Left-hander Cortes, who has a 5.21 ERA this season, has just rebounded, allowing two earned runs in six innings against the Blue Jays on May 18.

Wells, meanwhile, has a 2.94 ERA entering Wednesday’s game. The right-hander has had a career year so far, although Judge has thrived against Wells in the past.

The reigning MVP hit the Orioles starter on April 9. Wells also gave up two of Judge’s record 62 dingers last year on July 22.

Clarke Schmidt will start Thursday’s series finale for the Yankees, while veteran Kyle Gibson will take the ball for Baltimore.


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