This afternoon, 61 years to the day after Yankees slugger Roger Maris hit a record-breaking home run at Yankee Stadium, Aaron Judge had a chance to do the same. Same date. Same team. Same city. The baseball gods would decree, one would think, that it would have to happen today.
It didn’t happen. As poetic as baseball often is, sometimes things don’t work out exactly as scripted. And that’s just fine with the Orioles, who for the second straight day avoided becoming the victims of Judge’s AL record-breaking blast.
Judge, batting leadoff, got five cracks at it, though Orioles pitchers didn’t exactly give him a lot to hit. He didn’t see a strike in his first plate appearance, taking two balls and then getting plunked. He walked on five pitches in the second inning, and again in the seventh, prompting a strong reaction from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 45,428.
Yankee Stadium chanted "asshole" at Spenser Watkins after he walked Aaron Judge on five pitches.— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) October 1, 2022
Interesting choice of words from fans who, a night earlier, booed their own pitcher, Zack Britton, as he was walking off the mound with a season-ending injury. But that’s neither here nor there, I suppose. Watkins, facing Judge again the next inning, fell behind 3-0 in the count but battled back to strike him out swinging after a pair of foul balls. And so the Judge chase will have to wait at least another day, but considering tomorrow’s ugly weather forecast, it might not happen against the Orioles. That’s fine by me.
As for the rest of the game, well, what is there to say? This one was essentially over by 2 PM, only taking that long because rain delayed the start of the game until 1:30. Starter Austin Voth, making his final start in what’s been a breakout first season with the Orioles, simply didn’t have it today, getting torched for three runs in the first inning without the benefit of a Judge home run. Voth grazed Judge with a 2-0 pitch to put the leadoff man aboard, and a Gleyber Torres RBI double, Josh Donaldson sac fly, and Giancarlo Stanton 447-foot homer plated three runs in the span of three batters.
Voth continued to struggle in the second, serving up a solo homer to Kyle Higashioka to make it 4-0. The inning also included a single, a walk (to Judge), and another hit batsman before Voth was bailed out when Oswald Peraza broke too early from third base on a would-be sac fly, resulting in an inning-ending double play. Still, Voth did something he hadn’t done in his previous 21 games: allow more than three earned runs.
Voth, to his credit, settled down from there, following with three scoreless innings — including a fourth-inning strikeout of Judge — to get through the fifth. And that’s a wrap on Austin Voth’s season, folks. Just like the team he plays for, Voth delivered far more than anyone ever could have expected this year. A waiver claim from the lowly Nationals in June, who easily could have ended up on the blink-and-you-missed-him scrap heap like so many nondescript O’s hurlers before him, morphed into an essential piece of the Orioles’ rotation, posting a 3.03 ERA in 22 games (17 starts). Kudos to you, Austin Voth. Watkins worked the rest of the game in long relief, giving up four runs on RBI hits by Torres, Donaldson, and Harrison Bader.
The eight runs were seven more than needed for Yankees starter Nestor Cortes Jr. If there was ever a more surefire bet than “the Orioles would get absolutely flummoxed by Nestor Cortes Jr. yet again,” I haven’t heard it. No matter how many times the O’s get dominated by the crafty left-hander, who had thrown 11 scoreless innings in his previous two starts against the Birds this year, they’re absolutely incapable of making even the slightest adjustments.
And today, Cortes twirled his finest outing yet against the Birds, carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning and a shutout into the eighth before being removed. His final line: 7.1 innings, one hit, no runs. He matched his season high with 12 strikeouts, which he last accomplished against — who else? — the Orioles, on April 17. Remember when Cortes pitched for the Orioles for like two weeks in 2018 and kept giving up grand slams? I miss that version of him.
Reliever Jacob Barnes put the finishing touches on an 8-0 Yankees blowout, a game in which the Orioles did pretty much nothing right. But they didn’t give up #62, so that’s something.