Suárez struggles with command and Westburg leaves with injury in Orioles' 4-2 loss (updated)

NEW YORK – Albert Suárez walked into the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium this afternoon, turned left and stopped. His eyes did a quick scan of the lockers. His name was nowhere to be found.

Suárez casually spun in the other direction and smiled. He was in a row straight ahead with a bunch of the other pitchers.

He had worked through his first jam.

More would come later, and controlling the Yankees was much harder than locating his uniform.

Suárez didn’t make it out of the fourth inning, Jordan Westburg injured his left hip and the Orioles lost to the Yankees 4-0 before an announced sellout crowd of 47,429. Exactly how they did not want to begin an important series.

A career-high five walks in 3 2/3 innings, including three that loaded the bases in the fourth, indicated that Suárez didn’t have his usual command. He allowed three runs and six hits, threw 96 pitches and only 49 for strikes, and raised his ERA from 1.61 to 2.05.

Anthony Santander hit a two-run homer off Clay Holmes in the ninth inning, his 18th of the season and ninth this month, but the Orioles (47-25) fell 2 ½ games behind the first-place Yankees (51-24) after losing for only the fifth time in 15 games. Westburg would be a much bigger loss.

Westburg was removed after the top of the second inning with left hip discomfort, the result of his collision with Juan Soto in the previous inning.

"His hip's pretty sore," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Right now he's day-to-day with I guess it's like a hip contusion, but we'll see how he feels tomorrow. But he had to come out of the game. It's pretty sore."

Soto slowed to avoid contact and his knee clipped Westburg, who fielded Giancarlo Stanton’s ground ball with two outs. Soto was called for interference, his second of the season, and slammed his helmet to the ground from his knees in frustration.

Westburg, batting .277/.331/.502 with 14 doubles, a team-leading five triples, 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 67 games, clearly got the worst of it. Ramón Urías replaced him at third base and in the leadoff spot.

"That's a strange play. You don't see that a ton," Hyde said.

"Routine ground ball, just ran into him. I don't know."

"I didn't really understand it," said Gunnar Henderson. "He was having to come make the play in. Just kind of a freak thing. Hopefully, Westy will be back out there tomorrow."

Austin Hays watched the overhead view from the dugout iPad.

"It looked like Soto, he's running hard to third, saw the ball and then saw Westburg breaking on the ball," Hays said. "He kind of slowed down and it looked like he tried to avoid him. It was a little late to just be able to get out of the way. It's just one of those things. Westy's going for the ball hard, Soto was running hard, and it's unfortunate they ran into each other."

Meanwhile, Connor Norby was 2-for-2 with Triple-A Norfolk tonight at Lehigh Valley and Shayne Fontana pinch-hit for him. Norby appeared in four games with the Orioles, went 3-for-14 with a home run and was optioned on June 11. He could be returning, perhaps on the 24-hour taxi squad.

"I'm hoping it just hit that muscle and locked it up and hopefully he can get some soft tissue on it and get it to loosen up," Hays said. "Maybe he'll be in there tomorrow. We'll see. I didn't really get to talk to him. I know he was feeling it. He had to come out of the game. We'll see where he is tomorrow."

Soto had walked with one out and Aaron Judge singled, but Suárez induced a soft liner and grounder. Gleyber Torres walked with one out in the second and Austin Wells doubled into the right field corner. DJ LeMahieu grounded to Henderson, who threw home for the force, but Anthony Volpe followed with a run-scoring single.

Volpe was in a 5-for-38 slump.

The first four batters reached against Suárez in the third. Stanton had an RBI single, and Gleyber Torres’s sacrifice fly increased the lead to 3-0.

Keegan Akin threw one pitch in the fourth and left the bases loaded after inheriting Suárez’s mess.

"It's not like him to walk five," Hyde said. "He was behind in the count a lot. This team doesn't chase and just a lot of balls. Didn't get hit hard, but just unlike him to walk five guys."

Suárez said he'd need to watch video of his start before he can really break down what went wrong.

"I wasn't throwing my best pitch in the strike zone and that's something that really hurt me today," he said.

"I don't focus on how tough they are, I just focus on how I can execute. And today I didn't. That's why I think we got the loss."

The first half was filled with action and drama.

Former Orioles Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes allowed back-to-back, one-out singles to Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle in the first. Cortes kept the game scoreless but needed 25 pitches to do it.

Rutschman needed a towel after bloodying his nose while diving back into second base on a pickoff attempt. His face smacked the ground, which became a source of amusement for teammates in the dugout.

Judge wasn’t amused when Suárez drilled him on the left hand with a 94.1 mph fastball leading off the third. Judge took a wide path to first base and glared at Suárez. Catcher James McCann walked toward the mound in case the situation escalated.

Alex Verdugo, Stanton and Ben Rice singled, and Torres flied to right field. Rice was called up earlier today and delivered his first major league hit.

Alex Grisham pinch-hit for Judge in the fourth. Judge was scheduled to undergo imaging on the hand tonight.

"I was trying to go up and in, and I guess it was too much," Suárez said. "I did it before and he fouled it off, and then I was trying to go in again and happened to hit him."

"Obviously you don't want to see that," Henderson said. "He's an unreal hitter, so you've got to make difficult pitches and just kind of unfortunately went up and in. I hate to see it but hope he's back out there soon."

Akin hit Torres on the left hand leading off the fifth and caught some heat from the Yankees dugout. Gerrit Cole, who makes his 2024 debut on Wednesday, screamed at Akin from the railing. Verdugo also chirped and gestured, though he did it with a grin.

"You never want to see your guys get hit especially up in the hand area," Hyde said. "We've been hit before, too."

A wild pitch, groundout and LeMahieu fly ball increased the lead to 4-0.

The crowd cheered as Cortes’ 94.6 mph fastball rode in on Henderson in the sixth but didn’t hit him. Henderson grounded out on the next pitch.

"Pitcher's been trying to work up recently," Henderson said. "Just a competitive pitch. I mean, didn't really think anything of it."

The environment had the typical Bronx intensity.

"It's Yankee Stadium," Hays said. "It seems like it's always a sellout every time we're here. The stadium fills up throughout the game and the more pitches are thrown, the louder it gets. It was Yankee Stadium, just like it always is tonight."

"We also have a good environment at home, so for me it's normal," Suárez said. "Their fans were are excited, too. For me, I don't pay attention to that. It's normal."

Cortes blanked the Orioles on five hits in six innings, with no walks and six strikeouts. He has a 2.20 ERA in 11 career appearances against them.

"We've seen that Nestor before," Hyde said. "We just didn't square enough balls up tonight offensively."

* Norfolk’s Nick Maton hit his seventh home run tonight.

Double-A Bowie’s Cameron Weston allowed two unearned runs and one hit with eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Altoona was hitless through the fifth.

Collin Burnes belted his fifth homer, a two-run shot in the second inning.

Carter Young hit a three-run homer for High-A Aberdeen and finished with four RBIs.

Single-A Delmarva’s Anderson De Los Santos hit a grand slam. He came within a double of the cycle.

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