Gray defeats Orioles for critical doubleheader sweep
BALTIMORE (AP) — After making a guest appearance in the starting rotation, it’s back to the bullpen for Sonny Gray.
The New York Yankees right-hander can take consolation in knowing he’s still got the talent to effectively go deep in a game.
Gray took a three-hitter into the seventh inning, and New York beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 Saturday night for a doubleheader sweep.
In the opener, rookie Miguel Andujar homered and had four RBIs, J.A. Happ won his fifth straight start and New York rolled to a 10-3 victory.
Gray (10-8) gave up three hits, a walk and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander had been exiled to the bullpen after yielding seven runs in a loss to Baltimore on Aug. 1.
“His slider was really good today, noticeably different than the last time we faced him,” Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini said. “When that’s on, he’s a really tough guy to face.”
Pressed into service as a starter because a June 3 rainout created this split doubleheader, Gray allowed only one runner past second base in helping the Yankees notch their seventh win in eight games.
What now for the former Oakland star?
“He’ll probably go back in the bullpen,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Tonight we needed a big start, we got it. I’m sure it’s a role that continues to evolve.”
Gray has a strong opinion on how he should be used, and points to this performance as proof.
“If I can go out and throw the ball like that, I can get anybody out,” he declared. “I’m one of the best starting pitchers in this league and I truly believe that.”
Austin Romine homered, had three hits and scored three runs for the Yankees, who led 4-0 after four innings against Andrew Cashner (4-12).
Andujar had two hits in each game to raise his batting average to .300. He leads AL rookies in batting, multihit games (43) and RBIs (70).
Baltimore has lost seven straight to fall 56 games under .500 (37-93). It’s the seventh time this season the Orioles have endured a skid of at least six games.
After watching his team struggle to score in both games, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said, “Offensively it’s been a struggle. We scored, what, four runs in 18 innings? Give a lot of credit to their pitching, but that and being consistent defensively has been a real challenge for us.”
New York hit four home runs in the first game and got another solid outing from Happ, who struck out nine over six innings.
After driving in a first-inning run in the opener with a groundout, Andujar put the Yankees up 5-2 in the third with a three-run shot off Jimmy Yacabonis (0-2).
Brett Gardner, Gleyber Torres and Aaron Hicks hit solo shots for the Yankees.
Teammate Aaron Judge was a unanimous pick as AL Rookie of the Year in 2017, and Andujar just might make it two in a row for New York.
“At the end of it all, if it happens, it happens,” Andujar said through a translator. “We are trying accomplish something bigger here than individual awards.”
Giancarlo Stanton just missed joining the long-ball party. Seeking his 33rd homer of the season, Stanton was poised to break into a trot around the bases when his sixth-inning drive to center field ended up in the glove of a leaping Cedric Mullins, who reached over the 7-foot wall and snagged the ball in the webbing.
Happ (15-6) is 5-0 with a 2.37 ERA in five starts since coming from Toronto in a July 26 trade.
Luis Cessa worked the final three innings of the opener for his first major league save.
After Renato Nunez singled in two runs for a 2-1 lead, the 23-year-old Andujar put the Yankees ahead for good with his 21st home run. Ten of those drives have either tied the game or given the Yankees the lead.
Yankees: C Gary Sanchez (groin strain) went 0 for 3 with a walk for the Gulf Coast League Yankees on Saturday. “I’m excited for him to start his trek back up,” Boone said. If all goes well, Sanchez will join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start a minor league rehab assignment early next week. He has been out since July 24.
Orioles: RHP Alex Cobb has allowed seven runs in his last five starts while coping with a lingering blister. Showalter lauded trainer Brian Ebel and his staff, noting, “It’s been impressive to watch how they handle it.”
Yankees: Luis Severino (16-6, 3.28 ERA) strives to take over the major league lead in wins, and New York goes for a four-game sweep on Sunday night.
Orioles: Struggling Dylan Bundy (7-12, 5.31 ERA) has yielded 29 hits, 22 runs and six homers in his last three starts and is winless since July 29.
By David Ginsburg of the Associated Press.