The Orioles found themselves in another middle-inning fix against the New York Yankees late Saturday afternoon. And they found another way to battle back to put themselves in position to complete a three-game sweep Sunday at Camden Yards.
This time, it wasn’t the long ball that carried the Orioles to a 5-4 victory, their fourth without a loss this season to become the last undefeated team in the majors. It was a combination of plate discipline and timely hitting that led to two-run rallies in the fifth and seventh innings.
The game came down to an encounter with the Yankees’ terrific setup man, Dellin Betances, who came on in the seventh with one out and his team leading, 4-3. He also came into the game with a recent history of bad luck in Baltimore, and that bad fortune continued.
Mark Trumbo greeted him with a line-drive single to center that scored Chris Davis to tie the game. Hyun Soo Kim came up with two outs and brought Trumbo home with a single to right to give the Orioles the lead.
“If you’re able to score some runs off Betances,” manager Buck Showalter said, “you’ve got to feel very fortunate.”
It was not a great afternoon for Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, who struggled with his command and allowed 11 base runners in just 4 2/3 innings. He threw 97 pitches and balked home a run in the two-run fifth inning that gave the Yankees a short-lived 4-1 lead.
Gausman has pitched 10 innings in his first two starts and allowed six runs on 13 hits and seven walks. He did not get a decision in either game.
Once again, the bullpen was airtight, with Oliver Drake, Mychal Givens, Brad Brach and Zach Britton combining to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Britton pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save while Givens earned his first win of the season.
“I thought in the spring that we had a chance to have a good team with a lot of pieces and that’s one of them," Showalter said. “It’s very hard to duplicate the type of years they had last year but they’ve been there in a time of need to make runs matter like that and make leads stand up.”
Kim breaks out: Kim came into Saturday's game hitless in his first five at-bats of the season and came out of the game with a .333 batting average after a three-hit performance that included the RBI single that put the Orioles in front in the seventh inning. He said afterward that he hopes this performance gets him going.
“I think today’s went pretty good," Kim said through interpreter Derrick Chang. "I hope it helps.”
The balk explained: Gausman was charged with the run-scoring balk because he misinterpreted a sign and threw the ball to Manny Machado, who was not close enough to third base to be considered making a play on the base runner there.
The constant Gardner: Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner has been driving the Orioles crazy this weekend. He had a big game Friday night, with three hits, two stolen bases and three runs scored, and was all over the bases and the outfield Saturday. He singled and walked in his first two at-bats, stole another base and made a spectacular catch in left to rob Davis of a run-scoring hit in the fourth inning.
Sanchez hurt: Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who hit an amazing 20 home runs in just 201 at-bats during his rookie season last year, suffered a right biceps injury swinging at a pitch in the fifth inning Saturday. He swung hard and missed a 3-1 offering from Gausman, winced and walked back toward the dugout for a conference with the athletic trainers, then left the game.