Yankees beat Orioles 4-2 as Judge appears to escape significant injury when hit on hand by pitch

Ben Rice Yankees
New York Yankees’ Ben Rice smiles on first base after hitting a single against the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Pamela Smith)

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge was hit on the left hand by a pitch during the New York Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night, but it appears he escaped serious injury in a series opener between the American League’s winningest teams.

Judge was struck by a 94.1 mph fastball from Albert Suárez (3-1) in the third inning. The slugger initially remained in the game but was lifted for a pinch hitter in the fourth. Judge went to a hospital and said X-rays and a CT scan were negative.

“Feeling better after I got some good news,” he said after returning to Yankee Stadium. “A big relief.”

New York said before the game it expects first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be sidelined for eight weeks due to an injury he sustained in a collision at first base Sunday in Boston. The Yankees also put reliever Ian Hamilton and pitcher Cody Poteet on the injured list but anticipate activating Gerrit Cole to make his season debut against the Orioles on Wednesday after the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner recovered from nerve inflammation in his right elbow.

Nestor Cortes (4-5) pitched six scoreless innings and Anthony Volpe, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu drove in runs for the Yankees (51-24), who have the best record in the major leagues but are just 10-10 against AL East rivals. The second-place Orioles (47-25) won three of four at home against New York from April 29 to May 2 and are 17-7 against their division.

Anthony Santander hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Clay Holmes, his ninth home run in June and 18th this season. Holmes had not allowed a homer since last Aug. 28.

New York brought up 25-year-old prospect Ben Rice to make his big league debut. Before a sellout crowd of 47,429, Rice played seven innings at first base and went 1 for 4 with a single in a two-run third that built a 3-0 lead. Volpe drove in the first run with a second-inning single.

Rice, who played most of his minor league games at catcher, showed some inexperience when he ranged to his right to field Austin Hays’ second-inning grounder that Torres could have gloved at second. Thinking that Rice would cover first, Cortes stayed on the mound and Hays reached with an infield hit.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone reached the dugout in the bottom of the sixth after attending the high school graduation of son Brandon. Bench coach Brad Ausmus was in charge during the early innings.

Pitching with a mint green glove stitched with “Hialeah Kid” and an image of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, Cortes allowed five hits with six strikeouts and no walks. He is 4-2 with a 1.57 ERA at home and 0-3 with a 5.57 ERA on the road.

“It seemed like he was controlling both sides,” Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson said.

Suárez lost for the first time with the Orioles, throwing 96 pitches and getting just 11 outs. He allowed three runs, six hits and five walks as the Yankees stranded nine runners in the first four innings.

“It’s one of those days,” said Suárez, who faulted his control.

Suárez’s victory at the Los Angeles Angels on April 22 was his first since June 23, 2016, with San Francisco. The gap of 2,860 days between wins as a starting pitcher was the second-longest in 70 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, trailing only the 2,906 for Travis Blackley from 2004-12.

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