Yankees bounce back as Corey Kluber, bats overpower Orioles
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BALTIMORE — That’s more like it.
The Yankees’ lineup showed some pop, and Corey Kluber began to look like the pitcher the team had hoped he’d be when it signed him this offseason in a 5-1 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Tuesday.
Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Kyle Higashioka all homered in support of Kluber, who allowed just one run in 6 ²/₃ innings in his best outing of the young season.
The right-hander didn’t give up a hit until Trey Mancini led off the bottom of the fourth with a double past a diving Gio Urshela at third. By then, the Yankees were up by four runs, so when Mancini scored from third on an infield single by Makiel Franco, they still led 4-1.
The right-hander had avoided damage in the second after walking Austin Hays and drilling Chance Sisco with one out by getting Ryan Mountcastle to hit into a double play.
Kluber walked just one after struggling with his command in his first four starts, when he walked 11 in 15 innings.
“He’s such a precision guy,’’ Aaron Boone said of Kluber before the game. “More than some of our other guys. He’s really trying to carve up corners.”
And Boone was confident a performance like Tuesday’s was coming from the 35-year-old, who barely pitched the previous two seasons.
“I think he’s close to being really effective,’’ Boone said. “He’s shown signs of it in every single outing.”
His efficiency allowed Kluber to pitch into the seventh inning, something the Yankees need from some starters besides Gerrit Cole to protect what’s already been a heavily used bullpen. Boone said he’d be more willing to raise their pitch counts after treating them carefully in the early going.
“Now we’re at that point where we’ve been a little bit cautious with both guys … and now they’re built up and ready to go,’’ Boone said. “If they’re rolling, I feel good about them being able to drive their pitch count up.”
Kluber left with two outs in the bottom of the seventh after giving up his second single of the inning.
“I remain very excited about our starting rotation,’’ Boone said. “And he’s one of the reasons why.”
Jonathan Loaisiga got Trey Mancini on a grounder to second for the final out of the inning.
The Yankees took the lead in the first after a leadoff double by DJ LeMahieu, a single from Judge that moved LeMahieu to third and a sacrifice fly from Urshela.
They added a run in the third when Judge drilled a homer to left, his fifth of the season.
In the fourth, Higashioka — who Boone said prior to the game would play more regularly thanks to Gary Sanchez’s continued ineptitude at the plate — homered with one out.
LeMahieu scored again on a single by Urshela. But Stanton was thrown out at the plate thanks to an ill-advised send by third base coach Phil Nevin.
Baltimore starter Bruce Zimmerman lasted just two outs into the fourth inning, allowing nine hits and four runs.
Stanton’s blast to lead off the seventh made it 5-1.
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