Orioles 4, Yankees 2: Solo homers lead the way to a sweep

Patrick Smith

The Orioles hadn't swept a three-game series from the Yankees in Baltimore since April 2005. That changed tonight thanks to solid pitching by Chris Tillman and home runs by Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Nate McLouth

The Orioles went into this game knowing that they needed a win to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the day. They did just that, with three solo home runs, good starting pitching, and some scary but ultimately effective pitching out of the bullpen. When all was said and done the Orioles had completed the weekend sweep, maintained their pace in the A.L. East, and pushed the New York Yankees down to fourth place in the division.

Starting pitcher Chris Tillman went into the game looking for his tenth win of the season, and he got off to a good start with an easy first inning. He did give up a single to Robinson Cano, but it wasn't hard hit. His reward was an early lead as the second Orioles batter of the day, Manny Machado, hit a line drive deep into the left field stands for a home run, his sixth of the year and first since May 5th.

The Yankees tied the game in the top of the second in a most embarrassing way. After Zoilo Almonte singled, Tillman retired the next two batters and looked to be almost out of the inning. But a single and walk loaded the bases for Brett Gardner, who Tillman walked as well. The umpire wasn't giving a great zone tonight, but the balls to Gardner weren't exactly borderline. Rick Adair paid a visit to Tillman after the bases loaded walk and afterward Tillman got Ichiro to pop out to end the inning.

The homer to Machado was the only base runner that Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda allowed in the first inning, and he only allowed one in the second inning as well. Thankfully for the Orioles, that was also a home run. It was hit by Chris Davis (of course), and it gave the Orioles back their lead. They wouldn't lose it again.

Tillman came back from his long second inning with a quick, eleven-pitch third. And in the bottom of the third, the first batter was one Brian Roberts, playing his first home game since July 1st last year. Roberts received a very nice ovation from the fans before striking out. It wasn't a horrible at bat, he did see seven pitches.

The next batter, Nate McLouth, continued the O's trend so far: he hit a solo homer. It went onto the flag court and into the frenzied crowd. Machado followed McLouth with a double but was stranded.

After the Machado double, Kuroda settled down and Tillman followed suit. There were a few quick innings before the Yankees scored their second run of the game. Leading off the sixth inning, Cano hit a Tillman slider out for a home run. Honestly, it would have been more surprising if Tillman didn't give up a homer tonight, so at least he coughed it up to one of the good hitters on the team and not, say, Jayson Nix.

Darren O'Day relieved Tillman in the seventh and pitched a scoreless, but adventurous, inning. Jayson Nix was his first batter and he threw several pitches that were borderline and called balls, and on a 3-2 pitch Nix hit a long pop up to foul territory in left field. McLouth raced over but couldn't make the play because of a fan (in an Orioles shirt) reached up to get the ball. Technically the fan was within his rights, he didn't reach over the field of play. But get it together, O's fan, and let Nate make the catch! McLouth gave him a death stare after the ball dropped. O'Day ended up walking Nix.

O'Day got the next batter, with Nix moving up to second base, but then he walked David Adams. It was the second time Adams had been walked in the game, which is just ridiculous. Thankfully O'Day got the next two and the lead was safe.

The O's added on an insurance run in the seventh inning. Kuroda started the inning and gave up a single to Matt Wieters and a double to J.J. Hardy. He was pulled after that in favor of Boone Logan. Pinch hitter Danny Valencia grounded back to the pitcher, and then Brian Roberts hit a fly ball to center field. It didn't look deep enough to score Wieters, who runs like he's three feet deep into molasses, but Wieters tagged up anyway. Brett Gardner's throw bounced about 500 times and went up the first base line and Wieters slid in with the fourth run of the day.

The O's had an easy 8th inning as Troy Patton and Tommy Hunter combined to get the Yankees 1-2-3, but the 9th inning wasn't quite as smooth. Closer Jim Johnson, who hadn't pitched since blowing the save on Wednesday, was tasked with retiring the bottom of the Yankees order, starting with Lyle Overbay. Overbay doubled to the right-center gap. Nix then struck out, but Johnson was still missing his spots. He started off against Chris Stewart looking fantastic, but after going to an 0-2 count he then threw two pitches in the dirt and then hit Stewart to put the tying run on base.

As all of Birdland collectively freaked out, Johnson struck out Adams on three pitches, leaving just Brett Gardner standing in the way of a victory. Gardner swung at the first pitch and hit it up the middle. Second baseman Alexi Casilla ranged over, gloved the ball, and flipped it from his glove to Hardy covering for the final out. It was messy, but the save was secured. So was the sweep.

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