For one night, at least, the Bronx Bombers were back.
Harrison Bader slammed a tie breaking, three run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to propel the Yankees to a 6-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles in the first of a four game set against their AL East rivals at Yankee Stadium last night.
With the game tied at three and runners on first and second with no one out, Bader came to the plate and showed bunt on the first pitch. “I was only going to play for one pitch probably there and then he [Bader] did the rest,” said Yankee Manager Aaron Boone who took the bunt sign off. “Got a hanger and did good things with a hanger.”
The hanger came on the third pitch and Bader did not miss it as he drove an 81 MPH slider off of Orioles reliever Danny Coulombe, deep into the lower left field stands which sent the sell out crowd of 46,015 at the Stadium into a frenzy.
“You go pitch to pitch in that situation, gotta slow it all down,” Bader told the YES Network’s Justin Shackil during a post game interview on the field. “It was a good swing, just happy it went our way. Those guys are really good over there, yeah, it’s a big win for us.”
The Yankees trailed 3-0 but back to back home runs with two out in the bottom of the fifth from the red hot Anthony Volpe and Kyle Higashioka off Orioles starter Tyler Wells, made it a one run game.
Two innings later, the Yankees tied the game.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa led off with a single to center off of Orioles reliever Mike Baumann. Anthony Volpe (who is hitting a blistering .519 in his last 7 games and extended his hitting streak to eight straight games) smoked a shot off the glove of a diving Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo, to put runners on first and second.
Higashioka successfully sacrificed the runners to second and third and the Orioles brought in Yannier Cano, who has been one of Baltimore’s best relievers. Cano’s first batter was the struggling D.J. LeMahieu, who hit a bouncer back to the mound. IKF was caught in a rundown between third and home and was thrown out for the second out as Volpe took third.
Running on contact proved to be a smart play because that kept the Orioles from going for an inning ending double play and also kept the inning alive to allow the Yankees to tie the game, without the benefit of a hit. With Gleyber Torres at the plate, Cano uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Volpe to score the tying run.
Domingo German was making his first start since throwing the perfect game last Wednesday. He had a 1-2-3 first inning to make it 30 straight batters that he retired, but that streak ended when Ryan O’Hearn singled leading off the 2nd inning. Ramon Urias singled to put runners on first and second and Cedric Mullins singled to right to drive in the first run and give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
Baltimore went up 3-0 in the third. Adley Rutschman doubled in a run and he then scored on O’Hearn’s RBI single.
The Yankees got great work from their bullpen once again as four relievers combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings and kept the game within reach.
The win went to Tommy Kahnle who was the pitcher of record, but it could’ve easily gone to Nick Ramirez who slammed the door on an Orioles rally in the top of the 5th inning.
After Anthony Santander’s single put runners on first and third with one out in the fifth, Ramirez came in and struck out O’Hearn and got Urias on a ground out to third to keep the game at a three run deficit. It proved to be a turning point as the Yankees got two runs in the bottom half of the fifth, before they were able to tie it two innings later. “For Nick to come in there and kinda hold the line there and give us a chance and to punch back with two runs there, but Nick was huge tonight,” Boone said.
Ian Hamilton pitched a scoreless 7th, Kahnle did the same in the 8th and Clay Holmes had a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts to record his 10th save of the season.
German ended his night giving up three runs in 4 1/3 innings pitched. As he left the mound, the fans gave him an ovation that was really a tribute for the perfect game last week.
The Yankees have struggled offensively but Volpe’s bat has come alive in a big way.
In the last 18 games, the Yankees rookie shortstop is hitting .379 (22 for 58) and has raised his average from .186 to .225. It may be time to put Volpe back at the top of the lineup. The Yankees probably don’t want to upset the apple cart, so to speak, but LeMahieu is not a leadoff hitter anymore and Volpe can inflict more damage as the first batter because of his speed.
“You’re seeing a guy that’s maturing at this level, making adjustments now game after game, stringing together a lot of really good at bats and playing the kind of defense he is,” Boone said. “It’s been big for us, and we need it.”
An encouraging sign was Giancarlo Stanton’s last two at bats as he slammed a double off the center field wall and then lined a hard single to center in the eighth to get the winning rally started.
Boone is starting to see signs that Stanton is beginning to come around. “Cano is as tough as you can be,” he said, “especially on righties and to have a deep at bat there, laying off some really tough pitches and really getting that inning started with a bullet off a tough customer, that was huge and a great at bat. In a lot of ways, maybe the at bat of the game there.”
Oswaldo Cabrera pinch ran and the Orioles went to left hander Coulombe to face the left hand hitting Anthony Rizzo, who singled to set up Bader’s heroics.
“The fans came out to play, I love to see it. It’s hot out here and we want to put on a show for ‘em, so I’m happy we got a win for us,” Bader said.
Aaron Hicks was back in the Bronx for the first time since he was DFA’d in late May and his every move was met with boos from the Stadium crowd. Even the video tribute that the Yankees showed was met with jeers.
Hicks got off to a fast start with his new team but he’s come back to earth. The switch-hitter was 1 for 4 in the game and is 4 for his last 31.