For most of the last six years or so, there would have been no way the Yankees would have lost their game Wednesday night.
Not to Baltimore. Not in The Bronx.
But the Orioles are no longer the pushovers they had been, and it seems there will be few easy nights for the Yankees in baseball’s toughest division.
The Yankees had looked ready to win their sixth straight game and continue their march up the AL East standings.
But seemingly out of nowhere, the improved Orioles erupted for eight runs in the seventh inning and finished off a stunning 9-6 win in The Bronx.
Nestor Cortes cruised through the first six innings, allowing just a solo homer to Ryan Mountcastle in the fourth.
But with a four-run lead, he gave up a three-run homer to Adam Frazier in the seventh to end his night.
Jimmy Cordero, part of a bullpen that had not allowed a run over five games and 22 ¹/₃ innings, entered and made things worse.
Back-to-back hits set up Gunnar Henderson’s pinch-hit, two-run double that gave the Orioles their first lead. Baltimore scored three more runs in the inning with Albert Abreu on the mound.
The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh, and Anthony Rizzo, who had struck out in his first three at-bats, singled to left to cut Baltimore’s lead to 9-6. But DJ LeMahieu whiffed and Harrison Bader grounded out.
The sudden collapse negated a pair of homers from Gleyber Torres, as well as one from Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
After the start of the game was delayed by an hour and a half because of rain, Cortes came out firing.
The lefty had been shaky in two of his previous four starts, but carried a 1.37 ERA in eight appearances against the Orioles into the outing.
After he limited the Blue Jays to two runs in six innings in his last start, Cortes pitched ahead in the count early in the game against the Orioles and retired the first seven batters he faced.
Baltimore right-hander Tyler Wells, in the midst of a stellar season, also didn’t allow a baserunner until one out in the third, when Kiner-Falefa smashed a triple to dead center.
Kyle Higashioka whiffed, but Torres drilled a two-out, two-run homer into the visitors’ bullpen in left-center. His eighth homer of the season gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
The Orioles answered in the top of the fourth, when Mountcastle homered off Cortes with one out to make it 2-1.
Kiner-Falefa hit his third home run of the year in the fifth, following Anthony Volpe’s leadoff walk. And Torres followed with his second homer of the night later in the inning, as the Yankees built a 5-1 lead.
The Yankees knocked Wells out after five innings, having allowed a season-high five runs.
But Cortes crumbled in the seventh with a leadoff walk to Anthony Santander and a single to Austin Hays before the lefty-swinging Frazier hit one off the foul pole in right to make it 5-4.
Cordero entered and allowed back-to-back singles before Henderson’s double down the right field line put Baltimore ahead.
Abreu came in and allowed a sacrifice fly to Mountcastle and run-scoring singles to Santander and Hays to complete the disaster.
Aaron Judge walked with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before Rizzo whiffed to end it.
The Yankees will go for a series win on Thursday.