NEW YORK – The Orioles knew it.
Before they filed out of the clubhouse for more pregame stretching and throwing, before the anthem was played, they knew that the Rays won earlier today. Their own victory would be necessary to keep pace in the American League East.
Last night’s comeback, made possible by an eight-run seventh inning, prevented them from falling four games back.
Get used to it.
The stamp denoting their spectator status has faded. They’re fighting to avoid doing the same in the standings.
Kyle Gibson gave the Orioles precisely what they needed with seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and maneuvering around four walks. Austin Hays greeted Clay Holmes in the eighth with a two-run double, and the Orioles claimed their 12th series with a 3-1 victory before an announced crowd of 41,520 at Yankee Stadium.
Mike Baumann retired the side in order in the eighth while making back-to-back appearances, Yennier Cano earned his fourth save, and the Orioles improved to 33-17 after going 5-1 on a road trip to Toronto and New York that looked dangerous on paper and laptop screens.
"It's definitely two tough places to play," said manager Brandon Hyde. "I think we showed just a gritty team. The way we won, too. None of them were easy wins. Just really proud of our club. These are two really tough places to play, two excellent teams. We played well in so many areas."
The Orioles came within an out of registering their fifth shutout. The Yankees hadn’t lost a series since the beginning of the month.
"We're just proving to ourselves once again that we're never out of any games," Hays said. "Our pitching staff just does a great job of keeping the offense in there until we can find a way to get something going, whether it's late in the game or early. Just playing really well in every facet of the game right now."
Cano walked his first batter in 25 2/3 innings. He lost Aaron Judge with the count full leading off the ninth inning, and Willie Calhoun had an RBI double.
Clarke Schmidt shut out the Orioles until two outs in the fifth, when Anthony Santander grounded a sweeper into right field at 103.9 mph to score Adam Frazier for a 1-0 lead. Schmidt didn’t reappear in the sixth.
Holmes was the Yankees’ fourth reliever. He followed Wandy Peralta, who walked two batters in the eighth.
Hays drove an elevated sinker to right field, where the ball slammed off the top of the fence. The Orioles challenged the call, hoping for a home run, but were denied.
One of the few times they didn’t get their way on the trip.
Gleyber Torres led off the bottom of the first with a single into center field, and Gibson didn’t surrender another hit until Calhoun’s leadoff single in the seventh, which was nullified by a strikeout and 3-6-1 double play. He issued a pair of two-out walks in the fourth and Anthony Volpe grounded into a force.
Gibson was 0-5 with a 6.25 ERA in his last eight starts against the Yankees but hadn’t faced them since 2019 with the Twins. Tonight marked his sixth quality start of the season, and he’s allowed only one run in his last 14 innings to lower his ERA to 3.82.
This is the first time since 2013 that Gibson started a game against the Yankees that his team has won.
"That was a masterful performance," Hyde said.
Gibson is the first Orioles pitcher to toss at least seven shutout innings against the Yankees since Kevin Gausman on Aug. 28, 2016 in New York.
"He just leads by example, he goes about everything the way that a major league player should," Hays said. "It's hard not to get behind that."
Asked what Gibson has meant to the rotation and team, Hyde said, "So many things."
"He's got big-time intangibles with veteran leadership," Hyde said. "Our guys really rely on him just because he's had great experiences and been on winning teams. Showed what kind of pitcher he is tonight. A lot of guys look up to him and he's been amazing."
The double play ball in the seventh came on Gibson’s 96th pitch. He stretched for the throw from Jorge Mateo, waited out the challenge, completed his mission and wondered if one run would be enough.
How much fun is Gibson having with his new team?
"I don't know that I can describe how much fun I'm having," he replied.
"You get a little perspective as you get older and you get deeper into your career, and you remember the times where you were probably too hard on yourself and you remember the times where you didn't have as much fun as you wanted to, and I'm trying to not have any of those times. I understand going into every game that I try not to take my health for granted, try not to take anything like that for granted. I'm trying to enjoy myself win, lose or draw. So, we've just been winning a lot, so it makes it a little bit more fun."
Schmidt loaded the bases on 24 pitches in the first inning after retiring the first two batters. Santander reached on an infield hit and Schmidt walked Ryan Mountcastle and Gunnar Henderson. Austin Hays saw five pitches and popped up.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone was simmering in the dugout, and he boiled over before the bottom of the third inning to earn his fourth ejection of the season and 30th in his career. Plate umpire Edwin Moscoso tossed Boone, who kept screaming and holding up four fingers as if counting the missed strikes. He also held his hands apart to signal by how much. There was some profanity.
Other umpires tried to block Boone’s path and he went around them. Can only hope to contain him.
Schmidt stranded Santander and Mountcastle after their two-out singles in the third to leave his pitch count at 66. He retired the side in order on 14 pitches in the fourth.
Frazier doubled with one out in the fifth to extend his on-base streak to a career-high 18 games, and Santander delivered the club’s first hit with a runner in scoring position.
Gunnar Henderson’s infield hit leading off the sixth, and reliever Nick Ramirez’s fielding error, didn’t stretch the margin. But two walks in the eighth weren’t wasted, thanks to Hays.
"We talked a lot about tack-on runs," Hyde said, "and those were two that we really needed."
The Orioles lead the majors with 18 road wins. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, they've won back-to-back series at Yankee Stadium for the first time since April 7-9 and June 20-22, 2014. The last time that the Orioles won four straight series against division opponents was 2016.
They've reached a level where they can compete against the best teams, the juggernauts.
"I think we're one of the best teams, we're one of those juggernauts," Gibson said.
"You look at how this team is made up and the leaders on this team. Not just veteran guys, I'm talking young guys, too. You look at how they're competing. They're not fazed by any environment, they're not fazed by any game situation. Losing, ahead in the seventh, whatever it might be. They've got a level head about themselves all of the time, and that's kind of rare for a younger team.
"I think we knew from however long into spring training that we had a pretty good team, and we just put together a lot of really good games in a row. No doubt there's a streak coming where we're going to play some bad baseball, but right now I think we're maximizing how we're playing well."
Said Hays: "This year it's the AL Beast again," Hays said. "Every team, it's a dogfight every series you play in the AL East. This was just another one of those. Just try to find a way to win the game, no matter what it is."
* Ramón Urías played in his second injury rehab game at High-A Aberdeen, starting at third base and going 1-for-4. Kyle Virbitsky tossed four scoreless innings in relief.
Triple-A Norfolk’s Lewin Díaz hit his eighth home run. Drew Rom allowed six runs and seven hits, with two walks and two strikeouts, in 1 2/3 innings.
TT Bowens hit his second home run with Double-A Bowie. Chayce McDermott tossed five scoreless and hitless innings, with six walks, before allowing two runs and two hits in the sixth.
Single-A Delmarva’s Juan Nunez tossed four scoreless innings with one hit, three walks and eight strikeouts.
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