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, as well: a dose of reality.
Their historically good start has been sidetracked for a few days, with some significant pitching injuries, a suspension for Josh Donaldson and now, the team’s first three-game losing streak, thanks to a 6-4 loss to last-place Baltimore at the Stadium .
“It’s a little bit of adversity,” Cole said. “It’s a tough stretch, with the amount of games, doubleheaders and injuries crept up on us. It could get turned around tomorrow or next week. Ace players, we have to stay in the middle.”
On Monday, no one else hit besides Judge, Cole gave up a season-high five runs and the Orioles, who entered having won three of four — all on walk-off hits — continued their surprising winning ways.
It seemed an especially unlikely outcome when the Yankees gave Cole a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Cole had been 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his previous five starts — all Yankee wins.
He struck out a season-high 11 and didn’t walk a batter on Monday, but he was done in by five hits in the Orioles’ four-run third.
“It was a peculiar night,” Cole said of what was a dominant performance over eight innings, outside of a fateful six-batter stretch. “That inning is a little tough to digest. A lot of credit to them.”
Baltimore’s outburst came out of nowhere and just as quickly dissipated, but the damage was done.
Cole retired the first six batters he faced before Ramon Urias led off the third with a double down the left-field line.
After a wild pitch, Robinson Chirinos boomed an RBI double to the gap in right-center to cut the Yankees’ lead to 2-1.
Cedric Mullins’ one-out single to left sent Chirinos to third. Mullins swiped second, and Austin Hays’ two-run single to center put Baltimore ahead, 3-2.
Trey Mancini’s single to right was Baltimore’s fifth hit of the inning and caused pitching coach Matt Blake to pay Cole a visit. A Ryan Mountcastle force out drove in Hays to make it 4-2.
Cole rebounded in the fourth, striking out the side in order.
Judge continued to terrorize opposing pitchers, drilling a solo shot with one out in the bottom of the first off Jordan Lyles — who was making his fourth start against the Yankees already this season.
It was a 112 mph laser that hit off the back of the visitors’ bullpen in left-center.
The Yankees added a run in the second, taking advantage of a Chris Owings error, as Jose Trevino’s RBI single made it 2-0.
But they couldn’t add more, as after a failed bunt attempt, Marwin Gonzalez — filling in at third base — struck out and Anthony Rizzo grounded into a double play.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a hard grounder past third to open the bottom of the fourth, but it was ruled foul by third-base umpire Doug Eddings. Replays seemed to indicate it was a fair ball. Kiner-Falefa struck out later in the at-bat.
Judge’s second blast of the night, a two-run shot with one out in the fifth, tied the game at 4-4. It was his fourth multi-homer game of the season.
But Cole allowed a two-out, opposite-field homer to Urias in the sixth to put the Yankees back in a one-run hole.
Rizzo reached on a flare single to left with two outs in the seventh, ending Lyle’s night.
Facing right-hander Felix Bautista, Judge walked, but Giancarlo Stanton struck out to end the threat.
Baltimore added an insurance run in the ninth off Wandy Peralta.
In the bottom of the inning against Jorge Lopez, Florial walked and pinch-hitter DJ LeMahieu grounded into a force out. Gonzalez hit into a double play to end it.