BALTIMORE — Greg Bird’s stranglehold on the starting job at first base got Voit-ed Friday night, at least in the near future.
Buoyed by a pair of two-run home runs by Luke Voit, as well as a tying two-run single by Gleyber Torres and a go-ahead homer by Neil Walker, the Yankees escaped another dogfight with the Orioles with a 7-5, 10-inning victory in front of 27,150 at Camden Yards.
The Yankees (80-47) came back from a pair of two-run deficits to move to 7-6 against the Orioles (37-91).
Afterward, Aaron Boone made it clear that Voit, acquired along with international pool money from St. Louis on July 28 for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos, has a chance to earn more playing time.
“Performance matters,” said Boone, who sat the lefthanded-hitting Bird against Orioles righthander Alex Cobb in favor of the righthanded-hitting Voit. “There’s going to be opportunities for at-bats there. Performance certainly matters. I’m sure there’s going to be more opportunities for Birdie, more opportunities for Voit, and we’ll just try to match up and hopefully kind of get a hot hand going and see where we are.”
Walker hit a tiebreaking homer in the 10th off Cody Carroll, whom the Yankees included in a three-prospect package when they acquired Zach Britton from the Orioles at the trade deadline. Walker entered the game with a .297/.373/.495 slash line, five homers and 21 RBIs in his last 32 games.
Voit’s second homer, a blast to right-center, gave the Yankees a 7-4 lead, which proved important when Chris Davis homered in the bottom of the 10th. Voit, who had three hits, was serenaded with a loud “Luuuuuuke” from the sizable contingent of Yankees fans as he rounded the bases after homer No 2.
“I kind of hit the refresh button when I got sent down. Luckily, I got the opportunity to come back up,” said Voit, who made his debut with the Yankees Aug. 2 but was optioned to Triple-A Aug. 13 before getting recalled last Tuesday. “No offense to Greg, he’s a great hitter, he’s got a great track record. Obviously, you want to play as a player. I’m excited to just get an opportunity again. I know I can hit.”
With Aroldis Chapman on the disabled list, Britton earned his first save as a Yankee. He allowed a two-out homer by Davis, who had three hits and three RBIs — including a two-run single on an 0-and-2 pitch from CC Sabathia in the first — after entering the game with a .163 batting average and 158 strikeouts.
The Yankees inched within 8½ games of the AL East-leading Red Sox, who lost to the Rays.
Torres, whose error in the bottom of the seventh opened the door for the Orioles to take a 4-2 lead on Jonathan Villar’s two-out, two-run homer off David Robertson, redeemed himself with a bases-loaded single in the eighth that tied it at 4-4. Giancarlo Stanton scored easily and Miguel Andujar was safe on a close play at the plate in which he banged into catcher Austin Wynns, who couldn’t get a handle on the ball.
Sabathia, activated from the disabled list (right knee inflammation) earlier in the day, followed a two-run first with five scoreless innings. He allowed two runs, nine hits and two walks, striking out eight.
Cobb came in 4-15 with a 5.09 ERA but had a 2.03 ERA in six previous starts since the All-Star break. He allowed two runs and three hits — one of them a two-run homer by Voit that tied it at 2-2 in the fourth — in six innings.
“It felt good,” Sabathia said of his right knee. “I told Boonie and Larry [Rothschild, the pitching coach], if it feels like this the rest of the year, I’m good.”