BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles completed the sweep of the New York Yankees by hitting three solo homers off Hiroki Kuroda. The real story once again for the Yankees is that they can barely score. Baltimore, meanwhile, is an exciting, well-built team that is no longer intimidated by the Yankees.
WHAT IT MEANS: After 81 games, the Yankees are 42-39. They have lost five in a row. They trail the Red Sox by 6½ games in the AL East and have moved into fourth place, just two games in front of last-place Toronto. The second-place Orioles (47-36) are 2½ games behind Boston.
DYNAMIC DUO: What makes the Orioles suddenly such an intriguing and exciting team to watch begins with two players: Manny Machado and Chris Davis. Machado, a doubles machine, creamed a solo shot off Kuroda in the first.
In the second, Davis mauled Kuroda, smashing a shot the other way for his 31st homer of the year.
THREE IN A ROW: In the third, Nate McLouth joined the party, hitting the Orioles third solo shot in as many innings.
Machado added his major league-leading 38th double. Machado ended up not scoring because of a nice play by third baseman David Adams to end the third.
YANKEES SCORE EARLY: Between the Machado and Davis long balls, the Yankees actually tied the game. In the second, Zoilo Almonte and Chris Stewart knocked singles and Orioles starter Chris Tillman got wild. With two outs he would walk the No. 9 hitter, Adams, to load the bases and Brett Gardner to gift the Yankees a run.
They could have had more, but Ichiro Suzuki meekly popped out on the infield to end the inning.
CANO, DON'T YA KNOW: In the sixth, Robinson Cano got the Yankees on the board again, nailing his 17th homer of the year. It was his first since June 13th, spanning 51 at-bats.
SEVENTH-INNING THREAT: In the seventh against side-winder Darren O'Day, the Yankees put the tying run on second with one out via walks to Jayson Nix and Adams. Gardner flew out to short center and Ichiro popped out even more meekly than the first time.
NINTH TRY: Lyle Overbay led off the ninth with a double off Jim Johnson, so the the tying run came to the plate with no outs. Nix struck out swinging. Next, Stewart took first after being hit with a pitch, placing the tying run there. Adams would strike out on three pitches. Gardner would ground into a fielder's choice at second to end the game.
HIROKI: Kuroda was a pro's pro once again. Yes, he gave up the three home runs and a seventh-inning tack-on run went on his ledger, but he kept his team in the game. It is not his fault the Yankees can't hit. He dropped to 7-6 with a 2.95 ERA.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Yankees go to Minnesota for four games. Here are your pitching matchups:
QUESTION: What did you think of the first 81 games?