The Yankees rode a late offensive outburst to a 7-3 victory over the Orioles on Saturday, the penultimate game of the 2016 season. In a rather uncharacteristic showing, the team combined a dominant bullpen performance with a late-inning hit barrage to win their 84th game of the season and keep the American League wild card race plenty interesting for the teams still involved.
The outcome wasn’t nearly that certain early on.
After seeing his last start cut short by beanball fireworks and an early ejection, Yankee starter Luis Severino struggled to make it past the fourth against the Orioles. After pitching a clean first inning, Mark Trumbo got to Severino for a double to lead off the second frame. Severino then sandwiched a Chris Davis walk around two outs, but surrendered a line drive single to Michael Bourn that plated both runners, giving Baltimore an early 2-0 lead. An inning later, Manny Machado powered an opposite-field solo shot, padding the Oriole lead. That would be the sum of the damage done to Severino, as he was pulled an inning later.
The Yankee offense followed a familiar script early on, struggling to get much going against Baltimore starter Wade Miley. The team managed all of two hits through the game’s first four innings, but finally broke through in the fifth with an RBI single by Tyler Austin. The team inched closer in the sixth with a two-out rally sparked by back-to-back Billy Butler and Rob Refsnyder singles. Chase Headley then doubled down the left field line, scoring Butler to make it 3-2.
Austin struck again in the seventh, shooting an leadoff homer to the opposite field to tie the game up at three and helping chase Miley from the game. The Baltimore bullpen would just pour gas on the fire, however, as the Yankees struck for four more in the eighth, highlighted by a pair of doubles by Headley and Brett Gardner and a two-run go-ahead single by Austin Romine.
Dellin Betances regained his dominant form by closing out the win emphatically by striking out the side in the ninth.
The Play: Austin’s game-tying homer in the seventh (+.229 WPA)
Austin helped the Yankees break through against Miley with an RBI single earlier in the game, but he saved his best for the seventh. With the Yankees trailing 3-2, Austin led off the inning with this opposite-field shot to tie the game. It was Austin’s fifth home run of the season, and traveled 401 feet into the Yankee bullpen.
Yankees: Tyler Austin (2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI)
Orioles: Mark Trumbo (4 for 4, 1 R)
-Mark Teixeira punched a single to lead off the fifth inning before being pinch-run for by manager Joe Girardi. With his retirement coming after tomorrow’s season finale, it’s possible that it will be the final hit of his excellent career.
-The Yankee bullpen was terrific after relieving Severino in the fourth inning. Jonathan Holder, Richard Bleier, Kirby Yates, Tyler Clippard and Betances combined for five and 1/3 shutout innings against a dangerous Oriole lineup. The solid performance was a particularly welcome sight from Betances, who had struggled mightily in September.
The Highlight: Romine singles in the go-ahead runs in the eighth
Austin’s homer may have added more to the Yankees’ win probability, but Romine’s eighth-inning single sealed the victory for New York. With one out and runners at second and third, Romine shot this ball into left-center to break the 3-3 tie and give the Yankees their first lead of the day.
The Yankees will close out their roller coaster 2016 season against Baltimore tomorrow, and say goodbye to Teixeira in the process. After having announced his intentions to retire earlier this season, the Yankees will send their first baseman off with a farewell ceremony before slotting him into the lineup for the final time. Between the lines, the game will likely have playoff implications for the Orioles, who are part of a topsy-turvy American League wild card landscape that will go down to the wire. Luis Cessa is scheduled to start for the Yankees, while Kevin Gausman will take the mound for the Orioles. Game time is 3:05 PM.
Lead photo: Anthony Gruppuso / USA Today Sports