BALTIMORE – Buck Showalter is trying to be brave. With 17 games left and the Orioles still within striking distance of the final Wild Card spot, he has no choice.
After the Orioles’ second straight late-inning loss, Showalter admitted that it was hard.
“Tonight was a tough night for us, like last night, but these guys will turn the page and compete their rears off tomorrow. Anybody that would want to close the door on us would be making a mistake,” Showalter said.
The Orioles’ 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees before 20,141 at Oriole Park on Wednesday night, was surely a missed opportunity.
Tampa Bay lost again, and despite their 13th loss in their last 17, is ahead of the Yankees (78-68) by a game in the battle for the second Wild Card. The Orioles (77-68) and Cleveland trail by 1 ½, and Kansas City by two.
“We control our own destiny, we control our situation. The rest of the way we're playing against teams that are in the same situation as us, so we've got to play better baseball. That's the cool part. We've got to play a little bit better,” Adam Jones said.
Without Darren O’Day again unavailable due to an undisclosed ailment, Tommy Hunter gave up key runs.
Hunter (4-4) was in the game for the ninth with the score tied at 3, and gave up a home run to Robinson Cano, his 27th, and later a triple to Curtis Granderson, who scored on Lyle Overbay’s single.
“It’s always tough to lose. It’s always tough to be the guy to give it up, but he hit it. He had to hit it, so he did,” Hunter said.
He tried to throw a changeup past Cano, but it didn’t work.
“It was a tie game. I like to be in them. I’d like to have it back,” Hunter said.
Jim Johnson had been warming up in the bottom of the eighth, but the Orioles couldn’t push the go-ahead run across, and Hunter began the ninth.
“There’s a reason why he’s been pitching well for us, because we’ve been able to put him in a situations where he can do what he can do,” Showalter said.
David Robertson (5-1) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win.
In the ninth, Nate McLouth delivered a two-strike double, and Brian Roberts a two-strike single to cut the lead to 5-4 against Mariano Rivera, but Manny Machado struck out and Rivera recorded his 43rd save.
Before the game, the Orioles announced that Bud Norris, who was scheduled to start Friday in Toronto, would skip a turn. Showalter said he was suffering from discomfort in his right elbow.
Norris was suffering from elbow tightness last month in San Francisco, but it went away.
“It managed itself well the last time, so we want to get back to that. I think you'll see him pitch again for us," Showalter said.
In his first pennant race, Norris is eager to get back.
“I’ve been battling it for a couple starts. It’s this time of year. I definitely didn’t want to miss any time but I figure it’ll just be this one and go from there. Definitely give it some time to kind of heal. It’s about pitching in October and through it. I’m kinda bummed about it, but like I said I gotta let it heal and get back out there when I’m ready to go,” Norris said.
Brett Gardner led off in the first with a walk off Scott Feldman. He stole second and eventually scored on Cano’s infield out.
The Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the third when Roberts and Machado singled with two outs. Chris Davis doubled to right, scoring both.
Davis became the first Oriole with 40 home runs and 40 doubles in the same season.
Danny Valencia led off the fourth with a double off Andy Pettitte. With one out, J.J. Hardy’s double scored Valencia.
After the leadoff walk, Feldman retired 12 straight until Granderson launched his fifth home run of the year to right field in the fifth, and it was 3-2. It landed on Eutaw Street, the 10th this year, and the most in a season.
Alex Rodriguez hit his sixth home run of the year in the sixth to tie the score at 3.
Feldman pitched into the eighth inning, allowing three runs on three hits in 7 2/3 innings.
Then, it was up to Hunter.
“That’s the tough part. Being in September, being in the race, losing a game late. That’s going to be tough. This is a resilient crowd, a good group to be around, hopefully come back tomorrow and go to work,” Hunter said.
NOTES: Valencia tied a career high with four hits.
-Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.82) faces Dave Huff (2-1, 5.12) on Thursday.