NEW YORK — Neither Gunnar Henderson nor Adam Frazier began this season the way they or the Orioles hoped. The two infielders, one a rookie and the other a veteran, have done their best to make up for it of late.
The pair contributed the biggest hits of Baltimore’s eight-run seventh inning Wednesday night against the New York Yankees that turned a four-run deficit into a four-run lead as the Orioles evened their series at Yankee Stadium with a 9-6 victory. The comeback, Baltimore’s MLB-leading 19th, eased the sting of being on the other end in Wednesday’s series opener and continued a trend for the upstart club.
“They’re bulldogs, man,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “They’re going out and trying to get on base and trying to get the next guy up, and you can hear our dugout and you can see how excited they are for each other, and it’s fun to watch right now.”
Baltimore (32-17) entered the seventh trailing 5-1, with Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes, briefly an Oriole to start his career, to that point continuing his success against his former team. Having allowed a home run to Ryan Mountcastle in the fourth, Cortes took the mound for the seventh with a 1.39 ERA in 45 1/3 career innings against Baltimore, but a walk to Anthony Santander and a single by Austin Hays brought up Frazier, who launched an elevated fastball off the right field foul pole for a three-run home run to cut the Orioles’ deficit to one.
Even before the game, Hyde said Frazier has “been massive for us.” The blast was Frazier’s sixth, with the former All-Star needing fewer than a third as many plate appearances to double his total from last season with the Seattle Mariners. It left his batting line in his past 25 games at .296/.374/.506 after he hit .206/.289/.338 in his first 23 after signing an $8 million contract with Baltimore this offseason.
“I’m just using my body better,” Frazier said. “The top half’s connecting with the bottom half, and being on time, so it’s just being consistent with that. I think I was inconsistent the first month or so.”
The homer also provided more runs than the Orioles had scored off Cortes in any of their previous eight matchups against him. With him out of the game, the Yankees (30-21) turned to right-hander Jimmy Cordero, and after James McCann and Jorge Mateo singled, Hyde pinch-hit Henderson, a left-handed hitter, for Joey Ortiz. Baseball’s top prospect entering the year, Henderson entered May 13 hitting .170 with a .651 OPS, but he came to the plate hitting .294 with a .903 OPS in his past 10 games. The 21-year-old laced a go-ahead, two-run double down the right field line.
“This game’s hard; I think no matter how good you are, it’s gonna humble you at some point,” Frazier said. “He’s very competitive with himself, so it’s never easy, but we all had confidence in him this whole time. Hopefully, it’s just the start of a lot of good things to come.”
Henderson missed Frazier’s home run; Hyde told him before the inning he might be used as a pinch-hitter if the Orioles were able to get into New York’s bullpen. He went to the batting cages and faced about a dozen high-velocity pitches out of a machine before his game-winning hit, his first knock in seven career pinch-hit at-bats.
“We’re never out,” Henderson said. “Don’t count us out. We’ll battle back. There’s no quit in this team.”
After Henderson advanced to third on a passed ball, he raced home on a fly ball from Mountcastle. Santander followed with a single to score Adley Rutschman, who walked, then came home on Hays’ second hit of the inning. He joined Cedric Mullins as Orioles who have recorded multiple hits in one inning this season, with Mullins doing so in Baltimore’s previous high-scoring frame, a seven-run seventh May 5 against Atlanta.
The eight-run avalanche is the Orioles’ biggest output in one inning since scoring nine in the eighth against the Kansas City Royals on Sept. 8, 2021, at Camden Yards. The outburst also tied the 1989 “Why not?” team for the largest inning at the Yankees in franchise history.
The comeback erased a rough night for Orioles right-hander Tyler Wells, who allowed five runs on three homers — two by Gleyber Torres — in his five innings, though he tied a career high with eight strikeouts. Although Wells entered the start leading the majors in base runners allowed per inning, the outing left him with the second most home runs allowed in the American League with 13, one behind former Oriole Jordan Lyles. Eighteen of Wells’ 22 runs allowed this season have come on home runs.
“There’s so much confidence I have in our lineup and in our team to be able to make plays behind me, to get it done at the plate,” Wells said. “I was just happy with the fact that they were able to come back there because I really felt like whenever I came out of the game, I didn’t give them much of a chance to.
“We’re never out of it.”
Mike Baumann worked a quick sixth ahead of Baltimore’s rally, and Mychal Givens got an out to open the seventh before allowing three straight base runners. With the bases loaded for left-hander Anthony Rizzo, Hyde called on lefty Danny Coulombe, who allowed a run-scoring single but retired the next five batters to send the game to the ninth inning.
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A night after blowing the save, Félix Bautista pitched a clean ninth, including two strikeouts, to end the Orioles’ streak of extra-inning games at three and finalize what is perhaps their win of the year, though they have offered many to choose from.
“It’s a no-quit attitude,” Hyde said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
Orioles at Yankees
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