It was as recently as Tuesday that the New York Yankees threatened to go under the .500 mark while in the midst of a three-week funk.
Now the Yankees appear to be reversing course and seek their fifth straight win Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium when they go for the four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles.
New York (25-21) has outscored the Orioles 18-2 in the first three games of the series, and that is after Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. After sweeping a doubleheader Friday, the Yankees eked out a 2-1 win Saturday when Luke Voit hit a leadoff sacrifice fly in the 10th inning that scored DJ LeMahieu.
“We’re finally getting where we were,” Voit said. “We’re playing New York Yankee baseball finally.”
The winning streak is New York’s longest since winning six straight from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17 as part of a 16-6 start. The Yankees then dropped 15 of 21 and lost five in a row, a stretch that included three losses in Baltimore last weekend.
“Sometimes what separates good and great teams is you’ve got to be able to grind through those tough times,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The Orioles (20-25) won six of eight to get back into contention for the eighth and final playoff spot in the expanded field but their offense has dropped off during a four-game losing streak. The Orioles have been outscored 25-8 in their skid and 24-3 since taking a 5-1 lead in Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the New York Mets.
Baltimore mustered four hits Saturday and struck out 12 times. During this series, the Orioles are batting .119 (10-for-84) with 28 strikeouts while facing Yankee starters Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery.
“We played way different than we did against the Mets,” Baltimore infielder Hanser Alberto said. “We are very, very disappointed in ourselves because we know we have to do a better job, but we’re facing some tough pitchers.
“Hopefully, we can find ways to score more runs and hold the games and go back to winning games.”
Baltimore’s offensive funk has dropped them 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees, whose starters own a 1.97 ERA in the last eight games. The next pitcher the Orioles face is J.A. Happ (1-2, 4.31 ERA), who is 1-1 with a 2.59 ERA in his last four starts.
Happ’s last outing might have been among his best this season. In Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at Toronto, he allowed two runs on four hits while getting 10 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
Happ is 9-7 with a 3.76 ERA in 26 career appearances (25 starts) against the Orioles.
John Means (1-3, 6.58) starts for Baltimore and is also is coming off a strong start. He picked up first win of the season in Tuesday’s 11-2 win over the Mets when he allowed one run on three hits in a season-high six innings.
“Honestly this is the first time I felt like myself,” Means said. “A slight mentality change is what caused me to have really everything going tonight.”
Means was the winning pitcher in Baltimore’s last win at Yankee Stadium on March 31, 2019, and since then the Orioles have dropped nine straight in New York.
The left-hander is 1-2 with a 9.39 ERA in six career outings (three starts) against the Yankees. He last faced them on July 30 in Baltimore when he allowed a grand slam to Voit while lasting 2 1/3 innings.
–Field Level Media