Miguel Gonzalez dominated a superstar laden Yankees lineup Friday night, leading the Orioles to a 6-1 win that pulled the birds to within two games of New York in the AL East. Gonzalez saved his best outing of the season for this all important series opener, tossing seven shutout innings at the Yankees. He gave up just four hits, walked only one, and struck out a career high nine.
Neither rust from 11 days off, nerves from pitching in Yankee Stadium, or the challenge of becoming the first O’s pitcher to throw a meaningful game in New York this late in the season since Scott Kamieniecki in 1997 would slow the O’s rookie. Through five innings, Gonzalez retired 15 of 16 batters he faced. By the time he ran into some trouble in the sixth, he was pitching with a 4-0 lead. The Orioles got to Yanks starter Hiroki Kuroda (L, 12-10) in the second.
Adam Jones and Matt Wieters started tings with back-to-back singles to right, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Chris Davis was given the chance to make a productive out, and he did, plating Jones with a sac fly to Raul Ibanez in right. The next batter, Mark Reynolds, blasted a 2-0 fastball into the second deck in left field for a two-run homer (13), and a 3-0 Orioles lead. A solo homer from JJ Hardy in the sixth made it 4-0.
Things looked like they were about to go downhill for Gonzalez in the bottom of the sixth. Ichiro led off with a hit and moved to second on a wild pitch. Lance Nix walked, and with two on and no outs, the top of the order was coming up. But Gonzalez got Derek Jeter on a force out, Nick Swisher on a strikeout, and Robinson Cano on a foul out to third baseman Manny Machado. The rookie, staked to a lead in New York, slammed the door on at least on future Hall-of-Famer, one All-Star, and one superstar…a spectacular performance.
In the seventh, running out of gas, Gonzalez wiggled out of a two-on, two-out jam, by getting another future Hall-of-Famer—this time, Ichiro—to tap out to short.
The birds added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth. With two outs and none on, Mark Reynolds hit his second homer of the game and 14th of the year off of reliever Derek Lowe. Robert Andino and Machado followed that with consecutive hits, and Andino scored on Nick Markakis’ base hit.
Brian Matusz relieved Darren O’Day in the ninth, and gave up a one-out, solo homer to Curtis Granderson to break up the shutout.
The Orioles send Wei-Yin Chen (12-7, 3.78) against Freddy Garcia (7-5, 4.90) for the Yankees Saturday. Game time is 1:05.
- Gonzalez was extremely pitch-efficient, throwing just 55 pitches through 5. He was in total control in this game, even the few times the Yankees were able to get runners on.
- Reynolds’ overall game was one of his best as an Oriole. Two big homers, and a pair of gold glove caliber plays defensively.
- Machado and Markakis with multi-hit games.
- The Yankees’ Nick Swisher: 0/4, 4K, 2LOB.
- If the Orioles are going to continue to beat the Yankees, they will have to continue playing solid fundamental baseball. Reynolds’ homer will grab all the highlights from the O’s three-run second, and he deserves it. But look what happened prior: Jones went first-to-third on Wieters’ single to right. Then Davis hit an RBI sac fly, and on Ibanez’s throw home, Wieters took the extra base, going to second. For a team so reliant on the long ball, a little small ball heading into September can go a long way.
- The Rays lost in Toronto 2-1, in a game that ended with the Rays’ would-be tying run thrown out at the plate.
- Being relegated to rooting for the Red Sox just feels icky. Boston is playing Oakland out west this weekend. Well, they’re IN Oakland. Whether they’re actually playing is debatable. The A’s beat the Sox Friday night 20-2. The Tigers beat the White Sox, and the Angels beat Seattle.