NEW YORK — Nestor Cortes bent double, both hands on his knees, after the lofted fly ball struck high on the right field foul pole and clanked the Orioles back into the game.
To that point in the seventh inning, the game was firmly in the hands of Cortes and the New York Yankees. But these plucky Orioles, the ones who seem incapable of rolling over or accepting a cause as lost, turned the game around with one floating three-run homer from Adam Frazier.
In that fashion, Baltimore embarked on its best offensive inning of the season, and when right-hander Albert Abreu forced Frazier to ground out in Frazier’s second at-bat of the frame, the Orioles had put eight runs on the board.
That’s the essence of this Orioles team. They experienced a walk-off loss in the series opener Tuesday, were second best for large portions Wednesday, and yet they came back anyway to win 9-6 at Yankee Stadium. In a season that has featured many shining moments in just the first two months, Wednesday was one of the brightest — going head to head with an American League East rival, facing a pitcher they’ve often struggled against, and winning.
Baltimore (32-17) maintained its lead on the Yankees in the division. This game, the Orioles’ 19th comeback win of the year, feels like one fans will remember as a pivotal moment in the season.
It all turned in that one inning.
“They’re so young,” left-hander Danny Coulombe said of the lineup. “They don’t know any better, if that makes sense. When guys have been around for a long time, they kind of see how the game flow is going. Not that they get lax, but they’re like, maybe we give away an at-bat or two. These guys just never give away an at-bat, especially late in ballgames. It makes for a really, really good team.”
The cheers at the end of the seventh may have been sarcastic. After Frazier helped to chase Cortes from the game, Gunnar Henderson entered as a pinch hitter and drove a two-run double, Ryan Mountcastle knocked in another with a sacrifice fly, and Anthony Santander and Austin Hays issued RBI singles.
Henderson had a feeling he might be needed off the bench, so before the seventh inning began he entered the batting cage beneath Yankee Stadium to warm up against a high-velocity machine. That’s where Henderson was for Frazier’s homer, and when his name was called, he soon added to the rally — and his own improved production. He’s reached base in 11 of the last 13 games he’s played.
“There’s no quit in this team,” Henderson said.
The breakneck inning flipped a four-run deficit into a four-run lead. Those eight runs were the most Baltimore has scored in a single inning since scoring nine in the eighth inning against Kansas City on Sept. 8, 2021. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the run-scoring outburst also tied the most runs the Orioles have scored in an inning against the Yankees since 1989.
“I told the guys after the game, we’re never out of it,” Frazier said. “One through nine, everybody can impact the game in a positive way at any moment. We’re a pretty complete lineup.”
Those runs helped to cover for right-hander Tyler Wells’ shaky outing.
Wells recorded eight strikeouts for the second time in his last three starts, matching a career high. But he also matched career highs in runs and homers against him, with five Yankees scoring on three long balls. They are what marred his outing, and just as Wells’ strikeout numbers surge this season, so do his home runs. Gleyber Torres took Wells deep twice, and Isiah Kiner-Filefa checked in with the third homer.
“Homers have definitely been a problem for me,” Wells said. “Tonight, it was honestly just poor execution. Leaving pitches down the middle, in the big leagues, against a team like that, full of insanely respectable hitters, you’re going to get punished.”
Wells was bailed out by an offense that erupted once he was out of the game. He was already doing arm care in the clubhouse, but as the seventh inning unfolded, Wells said, he was screaming with joy at the television.
The Orioles’ four runs against Cortes were the most he’s allowed in his seven starts against Baltimore.
They gave the Orioles breathing room to operate their bullpen without Yennier Cano available after pitching two scoreless innings in Tuesday’s walk-off loss. Instead, Coulombe proved pivotal, inheriting a bases-loaded situation in the seventh from right-hander Mychal Givens and escaping with just one run charged to Givens before covering a scoreless eighth.
“Danny Coulombe pretty much won us the ballgame there,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Then right-hander Félix Bautista, one night after Aaron Judge smashed the game-tying homer off him in the ninth inning, closed down a save for a team that won’t go away.
“It’s a no-quit attitude,” Hyde said. “There’s no doubt about it.”