Can Orioles thrive with tough stretch to end season?
BALTIMORE – Before Tuesday night’s game, Buck Showalter talked about opportunities dwindling for the Orioles. With a three-run lead entering the sixth inning against the New York Yankees and their two main competitors for the final Wild Card spot losing, the Orioles had to feel good about their chances.
Miguel Gonzalez allowed two home runs in the sixth, and with a one-run lead to protect, Kevin Gausman was brilliant in the seventh and came unhinged in the eighth.
The result was an unsightly 7-5 loss to the New York Yankees before 25,697 at Oriole Park.
The only good thing for the Orioles (77-67) is that both Tampa Bay and Cleveland lost. They remain tied with the Indians and 1 ½ games behind the Rays. New York (77-68) is one-half game behind Baltimore and Cleveland.
They’ve lost their last six chances to go 12 games over .500.
Gausman (2-5) allowed three runs in the eighth on a double to Alex Rodriguez, a single by Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano’s two-run home run, his second homer of the game.
Showalter said Gausman was in for the eighth because he had a couple of relievers unavailable. It was a blown save for Gausman, his first.
The 22-year-old felt awful.
“Especially because I was the reason it all started. The floodgates kind of opened right there. You can definitely feel it kind of take some wind out of us, but hopefully tomorrow we can bounce back,” Gausman said.
Francisco Rodriguez allowed back-to-back doubles to Curtis Granderson and Mark Reynolds after Gausman left.
“Just wasn’t his night,” Showalter said. “He pitched real well against them last time.”
In two previous relief appearances against the Yankees, Gausman allowed one hit in 3 2/3 innings and picked up both of his wins.
“I just kind of missed my spot against A-Rod and he just kind of dropped the bat head on it and started off the inning with a double. Made a good pitch to Cano and got a ground ball and it just happened to find a spot. Made a good fastball down in the zone to Soriano and he just kind of got it,” Gausman said.
Tommy Hunter pitched an inning on Monday, and he can be presumed to have been unavailable. Darren O’Day, who has pitched just once in the last nine days, also wasn’t called on.
The Orioles, who had been baffled by New York starter Ivan Nova in his previous two starts, had broken through and scored four runs in the fifth.
J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts started the inning with singles. Henry Urrutia grounded to short, but Eduardo Nunez’s throw to first was wild.
Hardy scored as Urrutia was given an infield single. Nick Markakis flied to left. Roberts tagged and Alfonso Soriano threw it toward home, but A-Rod inexplicably cut it off. At home plate, Stewart threw his arms up, but it was 2-1.
Chris Davis hit his 49th home run to center field, and the Orioles led 4-1. Davis tied Frank Robinson for second most homers in team history. Only Brady Anderson, who had 50 in 1966, has more.
Davis has 126 RBIs, fourth most in club history.
Nova, who had given up just six hits to the Orioles in two complete game victories, allowed four runs on six hits in six innings.
“We scored enough runs off them, we just couldn't shut them down there toward the end. I thought our guys did a pretty good job. He's a good pitcher,” Showalter said.
Adam Warren (2-2) pitched the seventh for the win. Shawn Kelley allowed a run in the eighth when Davis walked, moved up on two wild pitches and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Wieters.
Mariano Rivera retired the final four batters for his 42nd save.
Alex Rodriguez’s RBI double in the third off Miguel Gonzalez gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
Up by 4-1, Gonzalez allowed home runs to Soriano and Reynolds in the sixth. He was charged with three runs on six hits in six innings, striking out six and walking none.
“I felt confident coming in. Things just didn't work out the way we wanted it to,” Gonzalez said.
With 18 games remaining, the Orioles missed out on a grand opportunity.
“We just haven’t put it together. We’ve got a couple of weeks left and we’re going to keep doing it like we’ve been doing it all year, just keep playing baseball. Don’t think about we’re struggling here, we’re struggling there,” Manny Machado said.
“At the end of the day, it’s about winning games from now on. It’s not about anybody’s stats. We’re just going to keep playing baseball and not worry about anybody else and what we’re doing.”
NOTE: Scott Feldman (5-4, 3.63) and Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.03) pitch on Wednesday night.