Written by Lee Tackett
The Yankees scored four runs in the eighth off of reliever Kevin Gausman and made the lead stand for a 7-5 win. Alfonso Soriano homered twice and former Oriole Mark Reynolds once as the Yankees scored six unanswered runs after the Orioles rallied for four runs in the fifth, paced by Chris Davis’s 49th home run.
Miguel Gonzalez allowed a base runner in all but one of his six innings, but avoided serious damage. Gonzalez cruised through the first two but ceded the lead in the third on an Alex Rodriguez RBI double. After putting up zeroes in the fourth and fifth, Gonzalez gave up a pair of solo home runs to Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds in the sixth before getting out of the inning to finish his night.
It was an odd outing for Gonzalez. Yankee hitters were either right on his splitters that stayed up and his fastballs that weren’t up enough, or they were completely blown away. It also certainly helped that Gonzalez did not walk a batter and the Yankees weren’t able to string together consecutive hits. Gonzalez struck out six in his usual fashion of sneaking 93 past hitters up in the zone. The balls that Soriano and especially Reynolds hit out were clear mistakes, but Gonzalez succeeded in limiting damage and left the game with a 4-3 lead.
Final Line: 6 IP 6 H 3 R 3 ER 0 BB 6 K
Kevin Gausman worked a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts, the final out coming on a filthy split change to Brett Gardner. The eighth was not as kind. Rodriguez led off with a double down the line and Robinson Cano followed with a game tying single up the middle. Soriano took the second pitch that he saw out to right center to close the book on Gausman and put the Yankees up 6-4.
Francisco Rodriguez gave up back-to-back doubles to Curtis Granderson and Reynolds to extend the lead to 3. After a Machado brain cramp, there were runners on the corners with no out, but K-Rod retired the next three in order with two strikeouts to keep the deficit at 7-4.
Josh Stinson struck out David Adams for his only action in the ninth.
Brian Matusz walked Cano on four pitches, but sat down Soriano and Granderson to complete the frame.
After four pedestrian innings, the Orioles finally struck back in the fifth inning. J.J. Hardy started with an infield single to deep short and Brian Roberts followed with a bouncer through the right side. Henry Urrutia hit a slow grounder to Eduardo Nunez who threw wide of Reynolds at first, allowing Hardy to score. Nick Markakis then put the Birds ahead with a sacrifice fly to left that plated Roberts. After a Manny Machado ground out, Chris Davis swatted the first pitch he saw into the stands in center for his 49th home run of the year to give the O’s a 4-1 lead.
The Orioles got one back in seventh due to some fortunate base running. Davis led off the inning with a walk, then with third catcher J.R. Murphy in the game took second on a ball through Murphy’s legs and then took third on a ball in the dirt. Davis should have been out at third, but David Adams missed the tag. Matt Wieters hit a sacrifice fly to deep left to pull the O’s within two.
Davis reached base four times and Hardy added two singles. Outside of those two, it was a hapless offensive effort.
-Roberts made a great diving stop to take a hit away from Robinson Cano to begin the sixth.
-Machado lost track of the situation in the eighth and cost the Orioles an out. With a runner on second a no outs, Ichiro laid a bunt down that Wieters fielded and threw to Machado. Instead of tagging the runner Reynolds, Machado stepped on the base and threw to first, assuming he could record a double play. Fortunately K-Rod got out of the inning and the mistake didn’t hurt.
Once Gonzalez failed to provide a shut down inning after the rally, things seemed like they were slipping away from the Orioles. Every ball in the eighth was hit hard and powered the Yankees to victory.
Observations and Musings
-Despite the vitally important nature of this game, I cracked a smile when Reynolds annihilated his home run in the sixth. He was infuriating to watch at times, but his tape measure shots made things well worth it. Michael Morse for Xavier Avery or Reynolds for his remaining salary? You be the judge.
-Ivan Nova was very good for New York and was the victim of very poor luck. The only ball that was squared up during the four run fifth came on the Davis home run. It was surprising that Nova didn’t come out for the seventh with only 79 pitches, especially given the dearth of off days left on the schedule.
-Gausman has admitted that his best pitch is a change up. He threw a perfect change to strike out Gardner in the seventh, but Wieters threw down exclusively fastballs on Cano who fed a ball back through the middle to tie the game.
-Fact: Gausman looked unhittable in the seventh. Fact: He faced 8-9-1 in the Yankees thin lineup. Fact: Rodriguez, Cano, and Soriano looked very comfortable sitting on fastballs. Speculation: The Orioles bullpen hasn’t been great this year, but with O’Day (who I think is hurt), Hunter, Rodriguez, and Matusz available to play around with matchups, it was surprising to see Buck stick with the rookie. Especially when Buck decided to play matchups in the ninth with the team down two.
-Tampa’s loss to Boston makes this defeat even more difficult to take. Another missed opportunity to gain a game.
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