January 30, 2023

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Urías busts out as Orioles rattle Yankees' ace

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NEW YORK — Aaron Judge could only look up and watch as Ramón Urías’ Statcast-projected 364-foot home run soared over his head and found a resting place in the fourth row of the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium.

Judge had just hit a game-tying two-run homer the half-inning prior — his second of the night and MLB-best 17th — electrifying the home crowd in the Bronx. But Urías made sure that wouldn’t last, knocking the wind out of the Yankees’ sails in the top of the sixth with the most decisive blast of the contest.

That home run capped a season-high three-hit performance for Urías, who finished a triple shy of the cycle in a 3-for-4 display, powering the Orioles to a 6-4 win in Monday’s series opener.

“Ramón swung the bat good all night,” said O’s manager Brandon Hyde. “I mean, Ramón’s been scuffling from a stats perspective, but he’s been hitting the ball hard for the majority of the time this year. He just hasn’t had results. And then he got a few [tonight].”

Urías’ third homer of the season came off Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, charging the right-hander with his fifth and final run of the night. Though Cole didn’t have his full command working, he still struck out a season-high 11 and battled through eight innings on 110 pitches.

“I mean, it feels good [against] every pitcher; it doesn’t matter who it is,” Urías said. “But, of course, I’ll take that.”

The Orioles picked their moments against Cole, forcing him to allow his most runs of the season in his ninth start. They hung a four-spot on him in the third inning, as Urías and Robinson Chirinos hit back-to-back doubles, Austin Hays delivered a two-run single to center and Ryan Mountcastle rounded it out with a fielder’s-choice grounder to third, beating the relay throw to first.

“Outstanding,” Hyde said of his hitters’ approach. “I thought we grinded out at-bats really well. Gerrit Cole has got great stuff. He’s an ace. He’s an ace for a reason. And to be able to put some runs up on the board against him — [I’m] proud of our hitters. I thought we did a really good job. Took really good swings off him. Made him work a little bit. And had one big inning.”

The Orioles had their most recent look at Cole just five days prior, but the Yankees starter had contained them to two runs over seven innings as they fell, 3-2. When asked if seeing him for the second time in such a short span might have helped his club’s offense find success Monday, Hyde had a blunt response.

“I don’t think it’s easy to face Gerrit Cole any time,” he said.

Cole had entered the game with a 5-1 record and a 1.57 ERA in eight career starts against the Orioles, the lowest ERA of any pitcher (minimum 50 innings) vs. Baltimore in the Divisional Era (since 1969).

But the Orioles bucked that trend on the offensive end, and then starter Jordan Lyles kept them in it, going toe-to-toe with Cole. Lyles threw 117 pitches — the most by an Orioles pitcher this season — and gave up four runs (three earned) while striking out eight.

The aforementioned Judge did the damage to Lyles, hitting a solo homer in the first in addition to that blast in the fifth. But Lyles toughed it out for 6 2/3 innings and salvaged a spent Orioles bullpen, which had combined to throw 11 innings in Sunday’s finale at Tampa Bay after starter Spenser Watkins was hit by a comebacker and exited before he had recorded a single out.

“On a night we needed it, for sure, [I’m] just so happy with him and his performance,” Hyde said. “I mean, he gave up a couple homers to Judge, and that was pretty much it. … Just really happy with the length he gave us tonight and how he threw the ball.”

But while Lyles earned the win over Cole, it was Urías who made it all possible. And that strong performance, under the spotlight in New York, could be the start of a turnaround for a player who’s been searching for one.

“I know that feels good for him, because he has been grinding and I know he wants to see his numbers go up,” Hyde said. “It’s just been unfortunate luck so far this year. So hopefully that can get his luck going in the right direction.”

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