Little contact but big inning for win saved by Dellin
So it took a pretty weird inning Sunday to help the Yankees shake off their three-game losing streak and stop the Orioles’ six-game winning streak.
The Yankees entered the fifth inning at Camden Yards trailing, 3-2, but loaded the bases with none out on three consecutive walks by Baltimore starter Mike Wright. Reliever Brian Matusz took over and walked his first batter, Garrett Jones, to force in the tying run. Matusz recovered momentarily by striking out Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius.
So there you have it — six batters in the inning to that point and no contact made, yet the Yankees had at least gotten even. John Ryan Murphy finally broke this contact-less string with a double off the glove of third baseman Manny Machado for two runs and a 5-3 lead that would hold up and allow the Yankees to salvage the final game of what had been an ugly series previously.
The Orioles whacked the Yankees for 20 runs and 31 hits over Friday and Saturday nights and were 13-for-31 (.419) with runners in scoring position while the Yanks were a meager 3-for-21 (.143).
In his new role as Yankees closer while Andrew Miller is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left forearm, Dellin Betances made good on his first save situation since his partner’s injury. Betances set down the first two batters in the ninth on ground balls, then after a walk to Machado came back to strike out pinch hitter Matt Wieters for his third save of the season to preserve a much-needed victory.
The Yankees maintain a portion of first place in the American League East and actually have a slight percentage lead over the Rays. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays remained on fire with their 11th straight victory and are just one game out of first. The Yankees’ victory Sunday pushed the also-surging Orioles to three games back. Gradually falling out of the AL East picture are the Red Sox, who were battered by Toronto again and are eight games behind.
The Yankees next head for Miami where Alex Rodriguez’s chase for 3,000 career hits will take a brief detour. With the designated hitter rule not in effect in National League ballparks, Rodriguez would have to play the field — third base or perhaps first base — to get at-bats, but manager Joe Girardi has indicated that he is not inclined to put A-Rod on the field.
Miami is Rodriguez’s home town, so there would have been a special feeling if he could accomplish the feat there. A-Rod needed a big day Sunday to be in position to get No. 3,000 in Miami where he is likely to be used only as a pinch hitter. But he was hitless with one walk in five plate appearances and stands at 2,995 hits, not nearly close enough to get to 3,000 at Miami if he does not play a position in the field.
Girardi also said he might give right fielder Carlos Beltran a rest during the Miami games. Marlins Park has a spacious outfield, and the former Gold Glover does not cover as much ground as he used to, so expect Jones and Chris Young to get outfield playing time in Miami.
Another decision facing Girardi and the Yankees’ brass is what to do next about Ivan Nova. The righthander, 28, made his second injury-rehabilitation start for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre in a 5-1 victory over Rochester Saturday night. Nova allowed one run, five hits and one walk with three strikeouts in six innings. Of his 73 pitches, 50 were strikes.
Nova, who underwent Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his right elbow in April of 2014, could be declared ready to return to the Yankees later in the week. One likely scenario would be a start Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the Tigers in what would be Adam Warren’s spot in the rotation.
Interestingly, Warren was removed from Sunday’s game one out away from qualifying for a winning decision after throwing his 92nd pitch. It may have been Girardi’s way of letting it be known Warren could soon be returning to the bullpen.
The victory went to Chasen Shreve (3-1), who was part of a solid relief ensemble to atone for miserable games by the pen the two prior games at Baltimore. Yankees relievers combined for an 8.22 ERA in allowing 10 runs (seven earned) and 14 hits, including two home runs, in 7 2/3 innings. Oh, and four wild pitches.
Shreve, Justin Wilson and Betances teamed to hold the Orioles hitless Sunday in 4 1/3 innings with two walks and five strikeouts.