Amid a chorus of boos from a soldout Yankee Stadium, Félix Bautista lunged behind the pitcher’s mound.
Those 47,583 fans came to see history Friday night, but in those moments, they watched the massive Orioles right-hander try to shake a leg injury suffered amid a plate appearance that could determine Baltimore’s postseason fate.
With first base open, Aaron Judge and his 61 home runs in the box and the tying run at second base, Bautista tried to pitch around the New York Yankees slugger after a meeting on the mound with manager Brandon Hyde. But Bautista stumbled after delivering his second pitch to Judge and appeared to hurt something in his left leg.
Hyde returned to the mound to check on his closer. He seemingly was asking the rookie for six outs, something Hyde said he hoped to avoid over the final stretch after Bautista developed arm fatigue after his previous two-inning outing. But with the Orioles needing to win each of their final six games to have a chance to reach the playoffs, Hyde called on Bautista after Jordan Lyles gave up a leadoff single on his 106th pitch.
A stolen base amid a strikeout brought up Judge, who had struck out, singled and walked against Lyles as he sought to stand alone in the American League record books after tying Yankees great Roger Maris. Hyde came out for a mound visit, with the Orioles’ infield joining him around Bautista. After those pitches and brief delay for Bautista to stretch and throw a handful of warmup pitches, he threw another ball to Judge. At 3-0, the Orioles intentionally walked him.
The leg did not seem to bother Bautista further in the outing. He struck out Gleyber Torres, who himself had a historic home run binge against the Orioles in 2019, and got a lineout from Anthony Rizzo, who homered three times against Baltimore earlier this season. But he did not return for the ninth.
Instead, rookie DL Hall pitched a perfect inning to finish off a 2-1 victory for his first career save and keep the Orioles’ playoff hopes alive — so long as one of the Tampa Bay Rays or Seattle Mariners lose Friday night.
The Orioles (81-76) scored in the first inning on Ryan Mountcastle’s single and in the sixth on a wild pitch from former Orioles closer Zack Britton, who immediately left the game with left arm fatigue. Oswaldo Cabrera’s solo shot in the fifth was Lyles’ lone blemish as he struck out a season-high nine in seven innings.
This story will be updated.
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