On a night when they got two homers from Aaron Judge, had Gerrit Cole on the mound and the Orioles in the Bronx, the Yankees got something else: a dose of reality.
Their historically good start was put off for a few days, with some serious pitching injuries, a suspension for Josh Donaldson and now the team’s first losing streak in three games thanks to a 4-6 loss to bottom-placed Baltimore at the Stadium.
“It’s a bit of adversity,” said Cole. “It’s a tough stretch with the amount of games, doubleheaders and injuries that have come our way. It could be flipped tomorrow or next week. As players we have to stay in the middle.”
On Monday, nobody but Judge batted, Cole gave up a season-high five runs and the Orioles, who had won three of four – all with walk-off hits – continued their surprising winning streak.
It seemed a particularly unlikely outcome when the Yankees gave Cole a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Cole had gone 4-0 in his last five starts with a 1.67 ERA – all Yankee wins.
He batted a season-high 11 and did not walk a batter Monday, but he was taken down by five hits in the Orioles’ third four-head.
“It was a strange night,” said Cole of a dominant eight-inning performance, outside a fateful six-batter stretch. “This inning is a little hard to digest. Much credit to them.”
Baltimore’s eruption came out of nowhere and dissipated just as quickly, but the damage was done.
Cole pulled back the first six batters he faced before Ramon Urias led the third with a double down the left field line.
After a wild pitch, Robinson Chirinos boomed an RBI double into the right-center gap to reduce the Yankees’ lead to 2-1.
Cedric Mullins’ one-out single to the left sent Chirinos into third place. Mullins finished second, and Austin Hays’ two-run single at center gave Baltimore a 3-2 lead.
Trey Mancini’s single right was Baltimore’s fifth hit of the inning and prompted pitching coach Matt Blake to pay Cole a visit. A Ryan Mountcastle force-out drove Hays in for a 4-2.
Cole rebounded in the fourth and in turn hit the side.
Judge continued to terrorize opposing pitchers and drilled a solo shot with one into the bottom of first Jordan Lyles – who was making his fourth start against the Yankees this season.
It was a 112-mile laser that hit the back of the visitors’ left-center bullpen.
The Yankees added a run in the second, capitalizing on a Chris Owings error as Jose Trevino’s RBI singles made it 2-0.
But they couldn’t add more as after a failed Bunt attempt, Marwin Gonzalez – stepping in at third base – hit and Anthony Rizzo landed in a double play.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a hard grounder after third to open the bottom of fourth, but it was called a foul by third base umpire Doug Eddings. Replays seemed to indicate it was a fair ball. Kiner-Falefa later lashed out in the at-bat.
Judge’s second blast of the night, a two-run shot and an out in the fifth, finished the game 4-4. It was his fourth multi-homer game of the season.
But Cole allowed Urias a two-out homer in opposite field in the sixth to put the Yankees back in a one-run hole.
Rizzo hit a flare single to the left with two outs in the seventh, ending Lyle’s night.
Facing right-hander Felix Bautista, Judge left but Giancarlo Stanton struck to end the threat.
Baltimore added an insurance run in the ninth from Wandy Peralta.
At the bottom of the inning against Jorge Lopez, Florial walked and pinch hitter DJ LeMahieu landed in a force out. Gonzalez hit in a double play to end it.