EditorsNote: Fixes Gray to 5 2/3 innings
Yankees use power to rout Orioles
BALTIMORE — The Yankees had plenty of motivation in their game with Baltimore on Thursday as New York is locked in a fight for an American League playoff spot. But New York also hoped to win for another reason — to honor former player and long-time executive Gene Michael.
Aaron Judge and Chase Headley each hit two-run homers as the New York Yankees belted four and achieved their goal with a 9-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of a three-game series at Camden Yards.
New York manager Joe Girardi knew Michael — known by many as “Stick” — very well. Michael died earlier in the day, and Girardi said Michael would have loved the way the Yankees won this one.
“That’s a Stick special; that’s exactly what that is, make pitchers work and hit home runs, and we were able to do that,” Girardi said. “So, that was for Stick. He’s meant so much to this organization.”
Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier both added solo homers as the Yankees (75-64) took two of three in this series, the first time they won a series in Baltimore since September, 2014.
The Yankees wore black armbands to remember Michael, and he was a part of much of the post-game talk.
“When you put the jersey on, you kind of take a minute to remember and appreciate ... obviously that represents Stick today,” said left fielder Brett Gardner who went 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. “He obviously meant a lot to this organization.”
Starter Sonny Gray (3-4 with Yankees, 9-9 overall) turned in his second solid effort in three starts. He gave up one unearned run and scattered five hits in 5 ? innings.
The Yankees took charge quickly, scoring three runs in the first inning and two more in the third versus Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman (10-10), who had a short afternoon.
He lasted just those three innings and gave up five runs on five hits while handing out three walks, and two of them scored. Gausman needed 79 pitches to make it through three innings.
“I threw a lot of good pitches early on,” Gausman said. “But overall just wasn’t throwing enough strikes. I’m pretty mad at myself for just kind of going out and throwing (79) pitches in three innings and getting out of there. That’s something I’ve got to be better at.”
In fact, Gausman walked Gardner to start the game, and the left fielder scored with two outs on a Didi Gregorius double. Judge followed with a long home run to center for a quick 3-0 lead.
Judge didn’t get a lot of pitches to hit in this series. He drew five walks and now has 105 this season, tied with Ted Williams for second-most ever by a rookie — and a Yankee record — but wanted to stay aggressive Thursday.
“There have been a couple at-bats this series that they left a couple over the middle that I just either missed or didn’t swing at,” said Judge, who now has 39 homers and 87 RBIs. “My mind-set today was to go in there and be aggressive and try and use the middle of the field.”
Matt Holliday added an RBI single followed by Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI when he grounded into a forceout in the third.
Headley made it 7-0 with his two-run blast off Mike Wright in the fourth.
Castro’s solo shot against Donnie Hart in the sixth stretched the lead to 8-0. Frazier hit his solo homer in the seventh off Richard Rodriguez.
Baltimore’s lone run came in the sixth when Adam Jones scored on a throwing error.
The Orioles (71-69) still are in the fight for the second wild card spot but fell 4 1/2 behind New York (first in the wild card).
Manager Buck Showalter knows that time is running out as the Orioles have just 22 games left.
“It’s there for us,” Showalter said. “It’s still there for us. I still think it’s going to be there for us but it’s going to be hard.”
NOTES: There was a moment of silence observed before the game for long-time Yankee executive/player Gene Michael, who died Thursday of a heart attack at age 79. New York also wore black armbands in the game. Michael hired Orioles manager Buck Showalter to be in the Yankees’ manager for the 1992 season. ... Baltimore traded minor league RHP Jon Keller to the Rockies to finish the April 7 trade where the Orioles acquired RHP Miguel Castro. ... The Orioles also recalled RHP Mike Wright from Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday, giving their tired bullpen some help.