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One-run win over Yankees extends Orioles' early-season streak

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USA Today Sports

One-run win over Yankees extends Orioles' early-season streak

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles remain the major leagues' lone unbeaten team, and their latest victory -- surprise! -- was accomplished without a home run. Instead, believe it or not, they stole a base to set up this win.

Hyun Soo Kim hit a tiebreaking RBI single off Dellin Betances in the seventh inning after a rare swipe by slugger Mark Trumbo, and the Orioles beat the New York Yankees 5-4 Saturday.

One day after overcoming four-run deficit, the Orioles came back from being down 4-1 and improved this season to 4-0.

"There are 158 games left," manager Buck Showalter said. "I'd rather win the first four than lose the first four but ... we'll take each challenge as it comes."

The Orioles trailed 4-3 in the seventh when Chris Davis doubled with one out. Trumbo followed with an RBI single, and the majors' defending home run champ promptly stole second off Betances (0-1), against whom runners were 21 for 21 last year in attempted steals. Kim then blooped his hit .

"I was just trying to put the ball in play, trying to make good contact," said Kim, who went 3 for 4.

It was the 23rd career stolen base for Trumbo in 553 games. It was also the second steal of the day for power-laden Baltimore, which had only 19 all last year.

"Trum doesn't see a lot of steal signals, so there's some trust on both of our parts," Showalter said. "I don't know what was more impressive, him getting the sign to steal second or (Kim's) base hit off the breaking ball."

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez left in the fifth after straining his right biceps during his follow-through on a swing. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list after the game.

"When you see a guy come out of the game like that, holding it like that, you're really concerned," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Baltimore is assured of a 10th straight series win against New York at Camden Yards, a streak that began after the 2013 season.

Mychal Givens (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh and Zach Britton got his third save, with Chris Carter's bid for a go-ahead, two-run homer being caught on the warning track for the final out. The Yankees have lost four of five.

New York's Matt Holliday got his 2,000th career hit, an opposite-field single to right in the first inning.

Knowing he was on the cusp of the milestone, Holliday said before the game: "It's something to be pretty proud of. If you had told me as a kid that I would get 2,000 major league hits, I'd have been pretty thrilled with that idea."

Seeking to rebound from a dismal performance on opening day, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs and six hits over five innings. He walked four and hit two batters, still struggling after giving up a career-high seven earned runs in an abbreviated start against Tampa Bay.

Kevin Gausman gave up four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 1.10 ERA against New York last season, working at least six innings in each of his six starts.

After a two-run single by Ronald Torreyes put New York up 2-0 in the second inning, the Yankees upped their lead to 4-1 in the fifth. With runners on the corners and two outs, Gausman committed an odd balk -- throwing to third baseman Manny Machado, who wasn't near the runner -- before giving up an RBI single to Starlin Castro.

In the bottom half, Machado doubled in a run and Trumbo hit a run-scoring grounder.

More Orioles: ORIOLES PLAN ON TAKING ANOTHER POWER TRIP TO AL PLAYOFFS

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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USA TODAY Sports

Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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