(Gleyber Torres at-bat in the eighth inning of Game 1 – Photo by Jason Schott)
The Yankees opened their doubleheader on Monday with an 8-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1, led by four home runs and a strong outing from starter James Paxton.
The Yankees are now 11-2 in their last 13 games to improve to 78-41. This is their second-best record through 119 games over the last 58 seasons (since 1962), second to the 89-30 at this point in 1998.
They have now won 13 straight games against the Orioles, starting on April 4. They are 14-2 overall against them this season, outscoring the O’s an astonishing 126-67 in 2019. Baltimore’s only two wins came against the Yankees the opening weekend of the season. This is their most wins vs. a single opponent in a season since 2013 when they went 14-5 vs. the Blue Jays, and the most against Baltimore since they went 14-5 vs. the O’s in 2004.
This is the Yankees’ longest winning streak vs. a single opponent since going 13-0 against Minnesota from May 10, 2002-April 21, 2003.
Paxton improved to 8-6 as he went six innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on five hits and two walks, with seven strikeouts.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of Paxton, “I thought he threw the ball great, even better than the line. To the Orioles’ credit, they spoiled a lot of pitches today. I had someone go down and check, and through the first seven hitters, they had 19 foul balls. I know a lot of them were pretty good two-strike pitches that they were able to spoil. They made him work a little harder, but I thought stuff-wise, he was pretty good.”
Yankees batters have hit 56 home runs off Orioles pitching in 2019, the most homers by any team over a single opponent in a single season in Major League history, and Monday was no exception.
“The home run’s been a big factor this year, obviously, around the league, and certainly, you know, in a lot of ways, we’re built around that,” Boone said. “With our guys, they’re capable of – when they’re swinging the bats really well – of hitting the long ball. So, with our group, not a lot surprises me.”
After Baltimore got a run in the top of the first inning, Didi Gregorius hit a three-run HR in the bottom half of the frame.
Two batters later, Gleyber Torres, who was the designated hitter in this one, followed with a solo home run to make it 4-1 Yankees. That snapped an 0-for-14 stretch for Torres, who has recently battled injuries.
Torres is now hitting .389 (21-for-54) with 11 HR and 14 RBI, 17 R, 3 doubles off Orioles pitching this season. His 11 home runs vs. the Orioles this season are the most by any player vs. a single opponent in 2019. He is only the fourth Yankee since 1961 to hit at least 11 homers vs. a single opponent in a season (also Roger Maris-13 HR vs. the White Sox in 1961; Mickey Mantle-11HR vs. the Washington Senators in 1961; and Aaron Judge-11HR vs. Baltimore in 2019).
The Yankees added to their lead in the second when Brett Gardner doubled and he came home on a double by Gio Urshela.
Baltimore got a run back when Trey Mancini hit a blast to right for a solo homer to make it 5-2 Yankees.
In the fifth, Urshela launched one past the bullpen in left field, a 461-foot blast, giving him seven home runs and 14 RBI in his last seven games, with homers in five of those games.
Anthony Santander hit a solo shot in the top of the sixth, and Cameron Maybin returned the favor with one of his own in the bottom half of the inning to make it 7-2. He now has three home runs and eight RBI in is last eight games.
Gregorius tacked another one on in the seventh when he hit a sacrifice fly to score Gardner. Didi now has has 26 RBI in his last 22 games (since 7/16). He has now reached base safely in each of his last 34 games vs. the Orioles (since 10/2/16), hitting safely in 33 of those 34 games; is batting .381/.426/.662 (53-for-139) with 35R, 12 doubles, 9HR, 32RBI, 11BB, 2HP and 4SB over that spa; and .has an active 15-game hitting streak vs. the Orioles (since 4/8/18).
“Another homer today to get us going, which was big,” Boone said of his shortstop. “He hasn’t gone on one of those Didi hot streaks like we know he goes on, but I know he’s also playing, you know, had that finger (injury), that he’s kind of grinding through, like he always does. There was that stretch around London (late June), and just after that, where he was really raking, but he’s just been steady, you know, and he’s real close to going on one of those streaks where he gets Didi-hot and then those numbers start to fly.”
Baltimore got a couple runs in the eighth against Luis Cessa, and Zack Britton closed out the eighth before Aroldis Chapman came on in the ninth for his 32nd save.
CYCLONES CONNECTION: Gabriel Ynoa and Luis Cessa both played for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets short-season Single-A team, in 2012.