“As I was rounding third, I kind of looked in the dugout and no one had moved. And I knew they were going to just sit there,” said Hardy, who decided to celebrate on his own.
“Luckily, there was a bag just sitting there on the top step. So I grabbed it and figured I’d give myself a sunflower seed shower.”
Hardy hadn’t gone deep since Sept. 5, 2013. He was due, to say the least.
“It definitely felt nice,” he said. “This has been a long time for me. I felt like I forgot how to do it. You can’t try to do it. You’re just going to roll over, pop-up if you try to do it, so I’ve just been continuing to get my hits and just hoping it would happen, and it finally did.
“I think it’s a little bit of relief. Started to question myself, if I would ever hit one again, so it felt good.”
Did Hardy know the ball was gone as soon as he hit it?
“I sure was hoping it would get up,” he said. “Normally, I just put my head down and run. This time I kind of watched it a little bit to make sure it got up.”
Manager Buck Showalter tried to hide the grin on his face and Hardy returned to the dugout.
“The worst thing that happens now is he has to answer the questions about it,” Showalter said. “I know you’ve got to ask it. But it was tough for me. I wanted to hug him when he came by, but I had to go along with the program, so to speak.
“He internalizes so much. He wants to contribute every day, and he does. The play he made on (Brian) Roberts’ ball in the ninth inning that hit and bounced back, he makes it look so routine. He’s just been a solid, consistent contributor. It’s no secret that he’s hitting .280, .290. He’s contributing in other ways. He’s going to find a way.
“I think everybody was happy. He didn’t really catch that ball, either. That doesn’t mean he’s now going to hit 20 in a week. I hope so.”
“Too funny,” said pitcher Bud Norris. “For all of us the quiet joke we have around the clubhouse right now is great. J.J. is an All-Star-caliber player and we have seen that, so he was pressing a little bit, but hopefully it’ll take it off his shoulders a little bit.”
Who’s in charge of the silent treatment, also given to Chris Davis earlier this season?
“It’s different,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to give him up. It wasn’t me.”
Adam Jones would be a prime suspect.
“About time he went deep, man,” Jones said. “It was good to see. I like the silent treatment. I don’t think he was pressing, but it’s been something that’s in the back of his mind due to the fact that he’s a 25-plus home run guy the last three, four years. Hey, it’s funny. It’s part of the game.
“Good times. He did it himself. As soon as he came in, I saw him grab the seeds and threw them in the air, and then just high-five nothing. Hey, yeah, we were mauling him. He’s a good sport about it. It’s a long season. He knew he was going to get one at some point in time, but good to see Bud (Norris) go out there and go after the Yankees. Pitching today was really good, getting out of a couple of jams and that’s what really matters, pitching and defense.”
The four home runs didn’t hurt, either.
“We like hitting home runs,” Jones said. “We like the games where you get two, three, four home runs. You need to put runs on the board. The beautiful part is we got two two-run home runs, so instead of putting up just one, you’re putting up two. That’s part of our team game. Just continue to do it.”
Steve Pearce had two more hits to continue his torrid stretch.
“Son of a (gun) can hit, son of a (gun) can hit,” Jones said. “Doesn’t matter whose fastball it is, he can hit a fastball, anybody’s fastball. It’s impressive. Quite impressive.”
“Amazing,” Hardy said. “When C.D. (Chris Davis) went on the DL earlier this year and Pearce played for a couple weeks, he played great. And now he’s not playing every day but when he is he’s playing great.”
Yankee Stadium brings out the best in some people, including Jones, who homered in the first inning to give the Orioles an early lead.
“It’s the Big Apple,” Jones said. “The spotlight’s on you. If you ain’t ready for it, you’re in the stands. Show up for a reason.”
Norris tied his career high with his four consecutive victory before leaving the game with a groin injury.
“My first start here in Yankee Stadium is a special day for me and so forth,” Norris said. “Yankee Stadium is Yankee Stadium, so I just want to keep going every five or six days and give this team an opportunity.”
How important was it for the Orioles to bounce back quickly from last night’s brutal loss?
“You can’t put too much on the night before, night of, day of,” Norris said. “You’ve just got to go out there and play the game. These guys don’t hang their heads. It was a tough game last night. These guys know how to play and it was a tough one to lose. But that being said, we come out the next day and we win again and we have a chance to win the series.”
“We were loose since the first,” Showalter said. “You were in our locker room today. It wasn’t some, ‘Woe is me.’ This is a very mentally tough team. It’s battle-tested. There are people who can’t imagine the feeling of going back to the hotel last night and all the things they do. It’s actually a blessing to have a day game that quickly.”
“Last night was last night,” Jones said. “It’s sports. It happens. Move on. A new game, other opportunities.”
Hardy didn’t downplay it quite as much.
“Very big, especially with who they’ve got throwing tomorrow,” Hardy said. “We’ve got (Chris) Tillman, our horse, on the mound, but (Masahiro) Tanaka is pretty good, so this is a big win for us.”