BALTIMORE– A day after being shut down by St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching, the Orioles found their home run stroke once again with sluggers Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz each connecting on two-run homers, and Jonathan Schoop adding a three-run blast to lead the Birds to an 11-3 victory over the New York Yankees – but on a day that Manny Machado joined a suddenly growing injury list.
Monday’s game pit the teams in different roles from what each had been usually accustomed: the Orioles entered leading the division by six over the Bronx Bombers, five overall, with the Yanks playing chasers.
But since their last division title in 1997, even including the Birds’ 2012 playoff success, it has usually been Baltimore chasing New York and Boston for a division title, and since ’97, not successfully.
New York struck first Monday against O’s starter Bud Norris. Bret Gardner began the game with a left-centerfield blast just over the outstretched glove of Adam Jones that went for a triple, and strolled home on a dribbler from Derek Jeter.
In the bottom of the first, the O’s got some luck. Manny Machado doubled to left with one out, then Adam Jones struck out, but reached first anyway, with Machado moving up as starter Chris Capuano’s pitch got away from catcher Francisco Cervelli. Machado scored on Cruz’s game-tying sac fly.
In the second, the Yankees again threatened when DH Carlos Beltran walked, followed by a well-played hit-and-run by Chase Headley in which the third baseman’s chopper just snuck in between the first-and-second base hole. Norris struck out next batter Stephen Drew, despite a long at-bat, then the Yankees cleared the bases on a comedy of errors from pitcher Norris and Machado.
Headley was caught in a run-down between first and second, while Beltran tried to score during the fracas. It appeared Machado had time to get the throw in to catcher Caleb Joseph, but his throw bounced off the head of Beltran as he tried to get it to Joseph.
Norris picked the ball up, trying to find Joseph as Headley then charged home, but misfired his throw into the ground, scoring Headley, for two Yankees runs on throwing errors, though both were earned, uncharacteristic for an O’s team that has led the league much of the season in fewest errors committed. Norris got out of the inning, but threw over 60 pitches in just the first two innings before settling down.
In the bottom of the third, Machado appeared to suffer a serious injury on a broken-bat liner to short. As the bat shattered, Machado crumpled to the ground in what was later diagnosed a right knee sprain for the third baseman, who began the year on disabled list after offseason surgery on his left knee.
“He’s got an MRI tomorrow at 10, and hopefully we’ll have information we’re looking at,” said O’s manager Buck Showalter. “It’s a lot more positive than the way it probably looked.”
Machado’s injury has marked a concerning few days for the surging Orioles who lost hot-hitting shortstop JJ Hardy to a left thumb sprain just days before Machado’s injury.
“We hope it’s good news tomorrow,” said Showalter, who added that Machado celebrated with teammates in the postgame line.
The Orioles did get a run with an Adam Jones liner over short, scoring Schoop from second, after he advanced during the Machado liner.
Capuano seemed to hold the Birds mostly in check early in the game with movement on his pitches and strong velocity despite an intermittent rain that dusted the crowd during the game but never picked up enough intensity to stop the proceedings.
But in the bottom of the 5th, the Orioles got to him. Nick Markakis doubled with one out with a grounder past Headley. Chris Davis, taking over for Machado at third, fouled off a series of balls, then took a very close 1-2 pitch, before blasting the 2-2 pitch on a monster shot over the right field wall.
Davis paused to admire the shot as the White Stripes’ sports anthem “Seven Nation Army,” played to the cheering Baltimore crowd, on the Oriole’s 21st homer of the season.
In the 7th, the Orioles tacked on three more runs, this time off reliever Adam Warren. Markakis’ one-out double began the action followed by a strike-out by Davis. Adam Jones then drove in Markakis with a double followed by another monster shot to deep left by Cruz, his 31st of the year, at the time giving the Orioles a 7-3 cushion.
“It kinda snowballed there a little bit,” said Showalter, who also said he was surprised by the home runs in what had been a close game. “Chris obviously had the big blow of the night. And then Adam. I thought the fifth run there he drove in was huge for momentum.”
Norris was relieved by Brad Brach, the former 42nd round pick out of Monmouth, who pitched a scoreless 6th before being relieved by Darren O’Day for a scoreless 7th. O’Day and Andrew Miller combined for a scoreless 8th.
Schoop’s homer, in the bottom of the 8th, came with two on and one out and Ryan Flaherty and red-hot Caleb Joseph aboard. His 10th, and team-leading third against the Yankees this season, this one off reliever Chase Whitley, put the game out of reach. David Lough, taking over left field for Cruz, added an infield single in the same inning for the team’s 11th run. Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless 9th to close out the win. Norris got the win despite his early struggles and is now 10-7 on the year, while Capuano (1-3) took the loss for New York.
NOTES: Delmon Young, termed a “Yankee killer” by Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling, and who led all Orioles with a .314 career average against New York coming into the game (minimum at-bats) had a rare off night, going 0-5; but for once against New York, the Orioles did not need his offense; the Orioles ended up with three errors on the game as Schoop was also tagged with an error, despite wet playing conditions. It was just the second time in O’s history they committed three errors at home and still beat New York, the other time being September 21, 1961.