NEW YORK – The rain, wind and cold didn’t matter. Aaron Judge’s pursuit of a home run record and the hostile reaction from fans denied it also didn’t matter.
The Orioles didn’t bus into the Bronx for three days to stake out their place in history. They wanted to win the series. They wanted an 82nd victory and assurances that they’d finish on the right side of .500.
Gunnar Henderson drew a bases-loaded walk off Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning to break a tie, Bryan Baker registered his 10th scoreless appearance in a row by retiring all six batters faced and the Orioles defeated the Yankees 3-1 before an announced crowd of 45,332 to guarantee their first winning record since 2016 with three games to play at home.
"I think it's an accomplishment definitely from where we came from last year, 30 win difference, and still got a few games to go," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Proud of our guys with the season they've had."
Dillon Tate notched his fifth save with an uneventful ninth inning.
"I think it's awesome," Baker said. "When you put yourself in that position after all the work we've put in and expectations we've overcome, I think securing that is pretty cool, and I think it's something we should be proud of for sure."
"It's everything," said Kyle Bradish. "Nobody wants to have a losing season. This being my first year, it's everything I could possibly have wanted to be a part of. Like I've said in the past, the culture that we've had this year from the top down has just been awesome to be a part of."
Cedric Mullins led off the seventh with an infield hit and Chapman issued three walks before leaving the game.
Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander reached with no outs, Ryan Mountcastle took a called third strike and Henderson walked with the count full. Giving fans another reason to boo.
Austin Hays had a sacrifice fly against Ron Marinaccio, and left fielder Aaron Hicks ran down Terrin Vavra’s line drive near the line.
Bradish was removed after a seven-pitch leadoff walk to Oswaldo Cabrera in the sixth inning. Logan Gillaspie had runners on second and third with one out following a single and wild pitch, but Jose Trevino lined into a 4-5 double play to keep the game tied.
The rally in the seventh gave Gillaspie his first major league win.
Bradish allowed only an unearned run and three hits, and he struck out five batters. The rookie’s main issue was a pitch count juiced by his five walks. It stood at 24 after the first inning, 72 after the fourth - when he threw only seven - and 92 through the fifth.
Judge took a slider for a called third strike in the first inning, wrecking the New York narrative that the Orioles won’t give him anything to hit. He couldn’t check his swing on a curveball in the dirt with the bases loaded and two outs in the second, one pitch after he appeared to go around on a sinker up and in, leading Bradish to walk toward plate umpire Ryan Additon and demonstrate how Judge twisted his body.
"That's part of being a competitor," Bradish said. "It was bases loaded, best hitter's up, I thought I had him, I think a lot of people thought I had him. But (Additon) said no, he didn't go, so I was a little frustrated, because all it takes is the next pitch for him to hit one out and it's 4-1, but luckily I was able to come back with a big curveball and get him out.
"Just next pitch, is kind of what we preach. Don't let the last one affect us. And I still had leeway in the count to where I could make a good pitch for a chase."
Hicks led off the fifth with a walk and Judge walked on five pitches, the last just missing low. Fans booed anyway, of course, and not because Judge was selective.
Bradish bounced a slider with one out and the ball deflected off Rutschman, who threw it into center field while trying to nab Judge. Hicks scored to tie the game, but Bradish retired the next two batters.
Facing Judge didn't rattle the rookie.
"It was great," Bradish said. "Brings the best competitor out of me. He's the best hitter in the league right now. Just tried to attack him. He has a zone where we want to attack him and I think I executed that. It was just a fun game to pitch."
Bradish finishes with a 4.90 ERA in 23 starts. It was 3.28 over his last 13.
"I think it's extremely positive," Hyde said. "He's had his rookie bumps in the road, but I thought from where he's come from since the injury and the adjustments he's made delivery-wise, confidence-wise ... Tough day to pitch, too. The ball was slick, it's cold, it's wet, and to be able to go into the sixth inning against a really good club is extremely challenging. And I thought he showed you what he's made of today, and a very successful season for him."
Baker struck out the side in the seventh, including Judge on a 98.6 mph fastball, and he retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the eighth.
Judge was 1-for-7 with five walks, six strikeouts and a hit by pitch in the series. He walked over to the Orioles' clubhouse after the game, checking with a group of Baltimore media to make sure he was going in the right direction.
"Really just thought about it as a 3-1 ballgame," Baker said. "We had a couple runs, really just trying to maintain that lead. Got the first out of the inning, which was big. Having him up without runners on base was a little freeing, I think. Obviously, you've got to be careful with a guy like that, so tried to pitch as careful as I could and tried to pick my spots, tried to go into the zone, and it worked out well.
"I'm sure that he wanted it to be here and a lot of people did, but in the moment there's one out and next guy up. Just try to get this guy out."
Where other pitchers seem to be tiring down the stretch, Baker is getting stronger.
"I feel really good," he said. "I don't want the season to end right now."
The Yankees decided yesterday to push back Luis Severino to Monday in Texas, select Chi Chi González’s contract and give the right-hander his first start.
The Orioles already had a connection to González, drafting him in the 11th round in 2010 out of Boca Raton Community High School. The Rangers selected him in the first round in 2013 out of Oral Roberts.
Mountcastle doubled to score Rutschman in the first inning. Santander, who walked, moved to third base, but González stranded both runners with back-to-back strikeouts of Henderson and Hays.
Rutschman was stranded in the third inning after collecting his 35th double. Javy López held the record for Orioles catchers with 33 in 2004.
Kyle Stowers led off the fifth with a double as the rain intensified, and Rutschman walked with two outs to put runners on the corners. Left-hander Lucas Luetge replaced González and struck out Santander, who disputed the call.
Hyde came out of the dugout to make certain that Santander wasn’t ejected.
The Orioles left the bases loaded in the sixth when third baseman Josh Donaldson backhanded Jorge Mateo’s ground ball down the line and threw him out. They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position at that point.
Better to keep the bat still against Chapman and let him do all the work.
Better to get out of New York with Judge still at 61.
"I think we pitched extremely well against him," Hyde said. "There was some disappointment in a couple of the at-bats, but ... he didn't beat us in the three games, I thought we pitched him extremely tough, especially today.
"He's a great player. He's having an incredible season, a record-breaking season, and pulling for him in Texas."