New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge smacks a three-run homer in the eighth inning in a win over the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
April 7 (UPI) -- Aaron Judge and Jay Bruce each hit home runs, and ace pitcher Gerrit Cole made hitters look foolish, over seven shutout innings in a New York Yankees win over the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Cole also had 13 strikeouts and did not issue a walk in the 7-2 triumph Tuesday in the Bronx. The Yankees lost on Opening Day, but have since won three of their last four games and lead the American League East.
"I thought we kept them off-balance and I made a lot of good pitches," Cole told reporters. "I came in the [strike] zone a lot of times when they weren't expecting it. I got them to chase on good pitches."
Cole mixed a fastball, which reached 101 mph, with a slider, curveball and changeup to baffle batters and earn his first win of the season. He retired the final 12 hitters he faced and lowered his 2021 ERA to 1.46.
Neither team plated a run in the first inning. Cole then struck out three batters in the top of the second frame. Bruce led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run to right field. The 354-foot bomb was Bruce's first home run of the season.
Cole issued another three strikeouts in the top of the third inning. The Yankees added to their lead with two more runs in the bottom of the fourth frame. Orioles starter Dean Kremer walked the first three hitters of the half-inning.
D.J. LeMahieu grounded into a double play in the next at-bat, but Bruce scored on the play. Judge then brought in Gio Urshela with a single to right field for a 3-0 lead.
Fellow Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton brought in another run with an RBI double in the seventh inning. Judge then returned to the plate and hit his second home run of the season in the bottom of the next inning.
Bruce began the bottom of the eighth frame with a ground out. Urshela followed with a single. Kyle Higashioka also reached base with a double in the next at-bat. LeMahieu then reached went to first base on a fielder's choice to keep two runners on base for Judge.
The Yankees outfielder took a changeup for a called strike for the first offering of his exchange with Orioles relief pitcher Wade LeBlanc. He then swatted a LeBlanc cutter and smashed the baseball into the second deck of left center field seats.
Judge's three-run blast traveled an estimated 432 feet and traveled 111 mph off his bat, according to Statcast.
"It's a start," Judge told the YES Network when asked about his early performance this season. "I just try to have good at-bats and try to pick up some runners on base. I'm just trying to clean it up and keep the line moving."
Orioles second baseman Rio Ruiz hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning for the final runs of the game. Ruiz's homer off Yankees reliever Lucas Luetge traveled 342 feet and went over the right field fence.
Judge went 3 for 5 with four RBIs and a run scored in the victory. He is hitting .364 with two home runs and six RBIs this season.
Stanton went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a strikeout in the win. Maikel Franco and Ryan Mountcastle collected two hits apiece for the Orioles.
The Yankees (3-2) host the Orioles (3-2) in the final game of the series at 6:35 p.m. EDT Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Left-handed pitcher John Means will start for the Orioles. Right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon is expected to start for the Yankees.
The Toronto Blue Jays' Jonathan Davis scores the game-winning run in the 10th inning against the Yankees in the Opening Day baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York City on Thursday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo