Curtis Granderson steps up in bench role as Yankees rout Orioles
BALTIMORE -- The New York Yankees escaped from Camden Yards with their lead in the AL East intact, and as a bonus, slugger Curtis Granderson worked his way out of an annoying slump.
Granderson came off the bench to hit his 35th homer and drive in five runs, and New York beat the Baltimore Orioles 13-3 on Sunday to regain sole possession of first place in the division and earn an important split of the season series.
Derek Jeter also homered for the Yankees, who lead the Orioles by one game with 22 left. Each team won twice in a four-game set that drew 173,572 fans, including 40,346 in the finale.
"The bottom line is we're in first place," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The one thing that you want to be able to do is just rely on your club. You don't want to have to rely on other people."
Jeter, who had three RBIs and scored twice, said, "We lost a couple games, but we did battle back. Today was a big one for us. We have a much-needed day off (Monday), then we go to play Boston. I like the way we played."
New York finished 9-9 against Baltimore this season. Had the Orioles won Sunday, they would have received home-field advantage in a playoff game if the teams finish tied atop the division. Baltimore would have also had home-field advantage if the Yankees and Orioles finish tied for both wild-card berths.
Now, if the teams are tied at the end of the regular season, record within the division will be the tiebreaker.
"We'll try to make it not matter," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Granderson didn't start because he was stuck in a 5-for-43 skid. He entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and hit a solo shot to put New York up 6-3, then delivered a two-run single in the seventh to provide the Yankees a five-run cushion.
In the eighth, after Jeter hit a two-run drive off Kevin Gregg, Granderson doubled in two runs. The five RBIs matched a career high.
"Any way to try and help the team out," Granderson said. "Physically I have felt fine. Who knows what it's been? Just a matter of continuing to swing the bat. I've been getting good pitches; I just haven't been able to do anything with them. Just baseball being baseball."
Manager Joe Girardi couldn't have been happier.
"It would be great to get him going because he has been so important to our offense," he said. "For him to come in and get three hits and knock in five RBIs on a short day is pretty nice."
Pitching in relief of ineffective starter Freddy Garcia, Joba Chamberlain (1-0) entered in the fourth and worked 1 2/3 hitless innings to earn his first win since May 2, 2011. The right-hander was activated off the disabled list on Aug. 1 following elbow ligament replacement surgery in June 2011.
Wilson Betemit had two RBIs for the Orioles, who were seeking to win the season series from New York for the first time since 1997.
The best news of the day for Baltimore, perhaps, was that right fielder Nick Markakis may not be sidelined as long as anticipated with a broken left thumb, the result of being hit by a pitch from CC Sabathia on Saturday. The right fielder was expected to be sidelined for six weeks, but a surgical procedure Tuesday could hasten the recovery time.
"September is not an option (for Markakis), so we've got to hopefully play good baseball and make October an option," Showalter said.
Nate McLouth batted leadoff for Baltimore, going 0 for 2 with two walks and a stolen base in place of Markakis.
Orioles starter Zach Britton (5-2) allowed five runs, five hits and five walks in 3 1/3 innings. The left-hander was 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA in his previous four starts.
"I felt like when I commanded the ball in the zone, I got the outs that I wanted," Britton said. "So I kind of just beat myself around today with the walks."
The Yankees got a first-inning run when Jeter beat out a chopper to third and scored on a two-out RBI single by Robinson Cano.
New York benefited from four walks in a four-run fourth. After a single and two walks loaded the bases, Britton walked Steve Pearce to force in a run. Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki hit RBI singles before Jeter ended Britton's outing with a bases-loaded walk. Jake Arrieta then struck out Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez.
Baltimore answered with three runs in the bottom half. Garcia walked McLouth and hit J.J. Hardy with a pitch before Betemit doubled in two runs and Matt Wieters chased Garcia with an RBI single.
Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira re-injured his left calf Saturday night on the final play of the game. An MRI on Monday will go a long way toward determining how long he will be sidelined. ... The Orioles will recall OF Endy Chavez on Tuesday, Showalter said. ... Suzuki has a 19-game hitting streak at Camden Yards. ... Granderson's homer was his 100th with New York. ... Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to 13 games, his longest run since an 18-gamer in April 2007. ... Swisher went 0 for 4 and is hitless in his last 28 at-bats, part of a 2-for-43 funk. ... Baltimore next faces Tampa Bay on Tuesday in a three-game series. The third-place Rays trail the Orioles by one game.
Series tied 2-2
- Home Plate Umpire - Jerry Meals
- First Base Umpire - Mike Winters
- Second Base Umpire - Mark Wegner
- Third Base Umpire - Cory Blaser