NEW YORK – It will take an incredible turnaround for the Orioles to make September compelling. Tuesday night was a reminder of how they need to win to make the seemingly impossible possible.
Three weeks ago, the Orioles were in the thick of the wild card race. Now, they are 7 1/2 games behind and competing with six other teams to try and catch the Texas Rangers.
The formula for their 2-1 win over the New York Yankees before 30,785 at Yankee Stadium was familiar. Creditable starting pitching, terrific outings by the bullpen, and a home run by Chris Davis.
Davis hit a leadoff home run in the ninth inning, his 41st of the season, and it continued his incredible hot streak. In his last seven games, Davis has six home runs and 10 RBIs, and his 41 homers are the sixth best in any Orioles season.
“He’s been solid in a time of need. He’s been able to dial up some things that we need. It’s hard to do because they all know what he’s capable of,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Davis hit the home run on a 2-0 pitch off Chasen Shreve (6-2), and it was the 10th he’s hit off a left-hander.
“Over the past few years I've just made little adjustments here and there and I tried to do everything I can to not overswing or go up there and look for a certain pitch. Just try to see the ball and hit it and it's worked out for me,” Davis said.
The win was just the fourth in the last 19 games for the Orioles (66-72), who will need to go 15-9 to merely avoid a losing season.
J.J. Hardy returned to the lineup after a stint on the disabled list, and Matt Wieters was back after missing three games. Adam Jones was out with a sore right shoulder.
“We’ve played a lot of these games and there’s such a fine line between a W and an L at this level, with some exceptions obviously. It’s a good reminder of how good they have been in close games throughout the last three years or four years or whatever it is,” Showalter said.
“I think there’s a confidence there too when you get a guy like J.J. back. You’re able to start putting a reminder of the team that you normally have on the field – Matt comes back – there’s a little more sense of a lack of anxiety because there’s some track record there in those types of games.”
Showalter hopes to have Jones back on Wednesday.
“I’d like for him to play tomorrow. I talked to him a little bit today. But we will see what tomorrow brings. I got two lineups on my desk: one with him in it, one without him in it,” Showalter said.
Darren O’Day (6-2) retired the final two batters of the eighth for the win. Zach Britton polished off the Yankees (77-60) in the ninth for his 31st save.
Masahiro Tanaka retired the first 12 Orioles hitters. Davis walked to lead off the fifth. With two outs, Wieters dribbled a ball to short right field for the first hit.
Kevin Gausman allowed five singles and a walk in the first five innings, but escaped without allowing a run.
Ryan Flaherty led off the sixth with his eighth home run of the season off Tanaka.
Tanaka allowed one run on six hits in eight innings. He struck out 10 and walked one.
Alex Rodriguez led off the sixth with a home run to left to tie the score. Gausman, who was removed after the homer has just one win in his last 20 starts.
It was Gausman’s first time facing Greg Bird, a high school teammate in Aurora, Col.
Gausman struck him out twice, something he predicted on Monday.
"We actually went to dinner last night and I was joking, ‘I’m going to strike you out every one of your at-bats.’ But he also said he was going to hit a home run off me, so it goes both ways,” Gausman said.
The two old friends split the cost.
“I’m not going to buy him dinner before I pitch again him,” Gausman laughed.
T.J. McFarland relieved Gausman and pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings. McFarland, O’Day and Britton combined for four innings with just one baserunner
“This is exactly the type of ball that we’re capable of. That’s all we’re going to try and keep rolling from here, keep playing like that,” McFarland said.
NOTES: Rodriguez’s homer was the 3,056th hit of his career, surpassing Rickey Henderson for 22nd place on the all-time list. He has 15 seasons of 30 home runs, tying him with Hank Aaron for most in history.… Ubaldo Jimenez (10-9, 4.24) faces CC Sabathia (4-9, 5.27) on Wednesday night.
MORE ORIOLES: Jones out of Orioles lineup with shoulder injury