Dean Kremer knows the Yankees almost as well as his own family. He must feel as though he’s been in quarantine with them.
Kremer made his 11th career start tonight and his fifth versus the Yankees, but the lineup wasn’t a duplicate. Gleyber Torres is on the COVID injured list. Giancarlo Stanton was a late scratch with a quadriceps injury.
Aaron Judge was batting third.
Gio Urshela was available off the bench.
The Yankees are still dangerous at the plate, the intimidation factor lowered just a notch.
Judge homered twice off Kremer within the first four innings, and Urshela greeted Travis Lakins Sr. with a pinch-hit three-run shot in the seventh to give the Yankees a 5-4 win over the Orioles before an announced sellout crowd of 10,809 at Camden Yards.
Lakins inherited two runners from Cole Sulser after a one-out single and walk, and Urshela won a nine-pitch battle to drop the Orioles to 16-22 overall and 5-14 at home.
Judge homered in the top of the first inning and Austin Hays matched it in the bottom half. Judge led off the fourth with another home run and the Orioles tied the game again in the fifth on doubles by DJ Stewart and Pedro Severino.
The bottom of the order would elevate the Orioles on this night, but couldn’t give Kremer his first win of the season.
Pat Valaika singled up the middle to plate Severino with the go-ahead run, stole his first career base and scored on Trey Mancini’s double for a 4-2 lead. But Urshela unloaded on Lakins after fouling off four pitches in a row.
“If (Tyler) Wade hits, I keep Sulser in. Hits Urshela for him, then I’m bringing in a right-on-right matchup there,” manager Brandon Hyde said in his Zoom call. “Great AB with Urshela and really hurt us with the homer.”
Kremer limited the Yankees to those two Judge solo homers in five innings. He allowed four hits, walked none, struck out four and was removed after 77 pitches.
Severino and Valaika each had two RBIs before tonight.
“They got some big hits tonight, no doubt about it,” Hyde said. “Just a run short tonight. Thought Dean threw the ball well. Just gave up two homers to Judge, but gave us five innings and left with a lead and we just didn’t hold it.”
Kremer was beaten by Judge with a curveball and 94 mph fastball in consecutive at-bats. Judge improved to 10-for-18 with five home runs against the Orioles this season as he circled the bases in the fourth and a substantial number of Yankees fans celebrated.
Judge has 22 home runs in 58 career games against the Orioles.
“I think it was pretty good tonight,” Kremer said. “Made a couple mistakes to the wrong guy and he’s got enough power to do some damage. Overall, I think it went pretty well. Stuck to our approach and tried to execute it as best I could. Sevie called a good game.”
The Yankees tried to build on a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Clint Frazier singled with one out and Cedric Mullins couldn’t make a diving catch of Brett Gardner’s fly ball in left-center. Frazier misread the play and retreated to first base, and the Orioles recorded the 7-4 putout.
Mullins singled in the first and was caught stealing before Hays drove a Corey Kluber sinker 419 feet to the left field seats, with an exit velocity of 110 mph per Statcast.
Kluber registered his 1,500th career strikeout in the third inning when he got Mullins swinging. Mullins singled off Chad Green in the seventh and was stranded at second base.
Stewart led off the fifth inning with a double on a shallow fly to right-center. He was called out before second base umpire Tim Timmons - who must be stalking the Orioles - noticed that Wade dropped the ball. Stewart went to third base on Maikel Franco’s grounder and came home on Severino’s double to left.
Valaika, who was batting .190/.239/.286 in 17 games, followed with a ground ball into center field. Hays walked with two outs to keep the inning alive and Mancini delivered his team-leading 30th RBI. Hays was an easy out at the plate.
Stewart reached base four times, including a leadoff single in the ninth.
“Honestly, it’s just nice to see some stuff fall for me,” Stewart said. “I didn’t hit everything super hard tonight, but found a way. That’s the game of baseball. There’s been games I’ve hit stuff hard, either right at them or someone makes a really good play. Not going to get too high, too low. It’s obviously good to have three fall for you tonight, but tomorrow’s a fresh start. Go at it again.”
Freddy Galvis went 0-for-4 while batting cleanup for the first time in his career. Franco’s slump grew to 4-for-52 after his double play grounder in the ninth, but he made an excellent stop of Gary Sánchez’s 109.6 mph ground ball in the sixth and threw from his knees to start a 5-4-3 double play after Adam Plutko walked Judge.
“When he’s in situations, he’s a really good situational hitter,” Hyde said. “He’s done a nice job in RBI situations. Runner at third, he’s done a nice job moving runners. Just seems like when there’s nobody on or just a runner on first, he gets a little big on his swing and he’s coming around the ball and hitting a lot of ground balls to the left side. We need (Franco) and hopefully we can get him going here pretty soon.”
Means gets an extended break with Monday’s off-day before the Rays come to town. He threw a bullpen session this afternoon.
The Orioles are being extremely careful with Means following his 113-pitch no-hitter. He received an extra day’s rest in his next start and threw only 74 pitches.
Anthony Santander went 1-for-4 with a run scored and strikeout tonight at Double-A Bowie.