NEW YORK - Two games into this series and the Orioles have been reduced to trying to avoid being swept by the Yankees.
They’ve lost 11 of their last 15 games since July 2 and are below .500 again. They’re 1-5 in the Bronx this season, having lost the last two games here by a total of two runs.
Chris Davis belted his 20th home run in the ninth inning, but the Orioles lost 4-3. They’re now 12-16 in one-run games.
Kevin Gausman allowed three runs and threw 29 pitches in the first inning, but he made it through the sixth.
“He just made some mistakes with the breaking ball, that’s all. But I’m proud of the way he came back and pitched after that,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He was very competitive. I’ve got no problem with pitch selection, just where he got them. He made some really good pitches with it later on. But he kept us in the game. We were engaged in it because he didn’t implode.”
The Yankees turned to their bullpen, as usual, to shorten the game, and former Oriole Andrew Miller notched another save after following Dellin Betances to the mound.
Is it a six- or seven-inning game against the Yankees?
“On paper,” Showalter said. “The game’s not played on paper. That’s why Chris hit a ball in the seats. If it’s played on paper that doesn’t happen. We don’t look at it that way. We know they’re good. So is (Chasen) Shreve, so is (Justin) Wilson and they use them often, and I would, too. They’ve got a lot of good pitchers down there.”
The offense continues to struggle to manufacture runs. Manny Machado doubled with one out in the third inning and the Orioles didn’t get another hit until Davis’ home run with two outs in the ninth.
“They pitched pretty well,” Showalter said. “We just didn’t put much pressure on (Ivan) Nova. He had a lot of in and outs in a hurry, but Kevin held them where he should have and I was proud of that. He presented himself well.”
J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty opened the fifth inning with walks and moved up on Caleb Joseph’s sacrifice bunt. Manny Machado hit a scorching line drive that third baseman Chase Headley backhanded. Headley’s throw bounced to first base, but Mark Teixeira dug it out.
“Caleb gets a perfect bunt down where he should and Manny hits a ball right on the button,” Showalter said. “Hit it at the wrong place and of course their guy made a good play, too. It was a good read by J.J. A lot of guys take off on that ball. You can’t steer the ball. Hopefully, start getting some of those ... Adam (Jones) led off with a line drive and just one of those things. It will turn.”
Is it a case of hitting into more bad luck? There’s been plenty of it in this series.
“You don’t start getting into that woe is me and the breaks,” Showalter said. “You make them. We had a couple things go our way, too. They hit a couple line drives that we caught, too. Of course, (Travis Snider) made a good play on a ball. I don’t live in that world that we’re not getting some breaks and somebody else is. I think that’s an excuse. You’ve got to make them. You’ve got to make your breaks.”
Flaherty made a rare start at first base and hit a two-run homer in the third inning.
“He’s played there before,” Showalter said. “He can play just about anywhere. I don’t think twice about it. We knew they had eight left-handed hitters in there, like they just about always do at Yankee Stadium. And we felt comfortable with him over there and balls coming over there. He can play anywhere. Just wanted to get his bat in there and keep (Jonathan Schoop) playing.”
I asked Showalter whether he was confident that players would remain upbeat and not hang their heads as the Yankees’ division lead stretched to six games.
“Not with their pedigree and the things we’ve been through together,” Showalter replied. “It’s not a matter of hanging heads, you just get frustrated because you know that you’re capable of better and you realize there are games left. Those type of things are for people who live in a minute to minute world. We understand the challenge that’s ahead of us for a lot of baseball.”
Here’s more from the clubhouse:
Gausman on his first inning:
“Just some pitches. Two strikes to (Jacoby) Ellsbury, that’s definitely too good of a pitch. That’s why he’s making what he’s making. He’s a pretty good hitter. Really that lineup is just veteran guy after veteran guy. That first inning, I was definitely around the center of the plate more than any others. I think after that I really established throwing my fastball in for strikes. I think it showed after that. My stuff was pretty good tonight, and I felt comfortable with it. Really two splits that were left down the middle of the plate. When you throw that pitch and you leave it pretty center cut, it can get hit a long ways.”
On being able to shrug off first inning:
“Yeah, you know sometimes. Obviously, I’m not happy about it. I don’t think I ever shrug things off at this level. Yeah, you know walking (Carlos) Beltran when I did, those were really good pitches that he just happened to not to swing at. In that situation, yeah, you kind of shrug your shoulders. I think what I did after that was pretty good, kind of kept us in the game.”
On how getting the ball every five days now will benefit him:
“Yeah, definitely. That’s what it’s all about, getting into a routine, especially for a starting pitcher. That’s what it’s all about. You lose your routine, you can get out of whack and maybe we’re prima donnas in that sense, but it’s just one of those things. We find what works for us, and I think when you know every given day what you’re going to be doing that day, it only helps you.”
On being happy he lasted six inning:
“I knew after the first inning my stuff was good. I was going to have to mix in pitches with these guys. It’s a veteran lineup, so you can’t throw the same pitch too many times in a row. You get them out on a split the first time, they’re not going to make it easy on you the second time. Definitely to lock in and go six, I wish I would have gone seven, but it was huge for us and kept us in the game.”
Davis on disappointment in clubhouse:
“It’s frustrating obviously to lose two games like that, but we can’t hang our heads. Tomorrow’s an important game. We’ve got to continue to grind and try to salvage the series. I feel like we’re a hit or two away. I thought we hit some balls hard tonight. Headley made some good plays at third. I don’t think I’ve seen Teixeira miss a pick in the last four years. You tip your hat, you keep grinding and you try to get after them.”
On the Yankees bullpen:
“It’s good. There’s no doubt about it, they’re shutdown guys. I thought Nova did a good job of hanging in there. We got his pitch count up early, but he buckled down and really made us work. You tip your hat and move forward.”
Flaherty on playing first base:
“It’s fine. It’s another position in the infield. I felt fine.”
On two close losses:
“It’s tough. No one saw it coming this way, but you’ve got to fight. A lot of guys in this locker room, we’ve been in this situation before and we’ve got to fight.”