BALTIMORE (AP) — New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole had a dominating start go awry during a nightmarish sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles, who got a slump-breaking homer from DJ Stewart before tacking on four unearned runs in a 6-1 victory Saturday night.
Cole (4-3) lost a third straight start for the first time since July 30-Aug. 10, 2018, with Houston. Prior to this skid, the right-hander had reeled off 20 straight regular-season victories.
Cole struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced, the exception a grounder to shortstop by Ryan Mountcastle. The only Oriole to reach over the first five innings was José Iglesias, who doubled to left-center on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the fourth.
But the Yankees couldn’t mount any offense against Baltimore rookie Keegan Akin, so the game was scoreless heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Stewart was 0 for 17 this season before leading off with a drive over the right-field wall. A throwing error by third baseman Thairo Estrada preceded two walks and a two-run single by Mountcastle, and Rio Ruiz capped the uprising with a two-run double.
Cole finished with 10 strikeouts over six innings. He allowed four hits and just one earned run.
After Cole departed, Stewart homered again, in the seventh off Miguel Yajure for a 6-0 lead. It was the first multihomer game for Stewart, who will be seeing more playing time down the stretch after Anthony Santander was put on the injured list Saturday with a strained right oblique.
Cole was brilliant at the outset, but so was Akin in his fourth career appearance and second start. The 2016 second-round draft pick allowed no runs and three hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight with four walks.
He was replaced by Dillon Tate (1-0), who pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings to earn his first major league victory.
Clint Frazier hit a solo shot for the Yankees, who have dropped two straight to the Orioles after beating them 19 times in a row.
Gleyber Torres returned to the New York lineup after missing two weeks with a left quad and hamstring injury. The shortstop went 1 for 3 with a walk and a double.
Yankees: The return of Torres wasn’t the only good news on the injury front. Manager Aaron Boone said OF Aaron Judge (calf) is improving and “will start to ramp it up a bit” on Monday. Boone said Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) is running at 80 percent and is ahead of Judge in terms of making it back. … INF DJ LeMahieu didn’t start, but it had nothing to do with his recent thumb injury. “He’s been doing really well,” Boone said.
Orioles: Santander is likely out for the season. “It’s definitely a possibility,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s a huge loss for us and he’s very disappointed.”
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 3.38 ERA) pitches for New York in the series finale Sunday. Tanaka got a late start to the season because of a concussion, but is no longer on a stringent pitch count. “He’s probably in position to push that 100 envelope,” Boone said.
Orioles: Hyde chose to wait to see how this game impacted his pitching staff before naming a starter for Sunday.
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