BALTIMORE — After a Sunday night game against the Red Sox at the Stadium that lasted 3 hours, 46 minutes, the bleary-eyed Yankees arrived at their hotel here at about 3 a.m. Monday.
“Obviously, it’s a very quick turnaround,” Joe Girardi said a couple of hours before an afternoon game against the Orioles, “but we’ll deal with it.”
That they did.
Building on the momentum from taking three of four from Boston, the Yankees opened a nine-game trip with a 7-4 victory at Camden Yards.
Before the Boston series, the Yankees were swept by the Indians and dropped 5 1⁄2 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. With the win over Baltimore, they temporarily inched within three games of Boston, which hosted Toronto on Monday night.
“We’re playing good baseball,” Austin Romine said. “Winning those three against Boston was huge for us. You could see that we have a little more confidence coming into this series. Even going down 3-0 [Monday], it was kind of like it was at the beginning of the season. It doesn’t matter; we’re going to keep grinding and get to guys.”
Rookie lefthander Jordan Montgomery put the Yankees in that early 3-0 hole, allowing a homer by Tim Beckham on his fifth pitch of the game and an opposite-field two-run shot by Chris Davis in the second inning.
But the offense, held without a hit the first three innings by Dylan Bundy (13-9), erupted in the middle innings, scoring three times in the fourth, twice in the fifth and twice in the sixth.
Didi Gregorius’ two-run homer in the fourth cut the deficit to 3-2 and “really got us going,” Girardi said. Gregorius became the first shortstop in franchise history to hit at least 20 homers in back-to-back seasons. Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI single later in the inning tied it at 3-3.
Starlin Castro’s two-run homer in the fifth put the Yankees (74-63) ahead for good against the Orioles (70-68), who had won 10 of 13 to move into the thick of the wild-card race. Castro went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, improving to 14-for-39 since being activated from the disabled list Aug. 25.
In the sixth, Romine’s sacrifice bunt set up an RBI groundout by Brett Gardner and an RBI single by Castro for a 7-3 lead. “We just continue to grind it out,” Castro said.
Aaron Judge went 1-for-1 with four walks, giving him 103. He became the first rookie to walk that many times since Jim Gilliam had 100 for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953.
Montgomery, on an innings limit in the range of 185, allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits in 4 2⁄3 innings, running his season total to 134 2⁄3.
But the bullpen made sure the shortened start didn’t hurt. Strikeout machine Chad Green (3-0) fanned four in 2 1⁄3 innings and David Robertson, after walking two to start the eighth, retired three straight, two on strikeouts. Dellin Betances allowed a two-out homer in the ninth to Welington Castillo but struck out two.
Green, with a high-90s fastball Romine described as “having some jump at the end,” continued a remarkable season, with 87 strikeouts in 57 1⁄3 innings in 31 relief appearances. He entered the day ranked third among AL relievers with a 1.80 ERA and struck out seven of eight Indians last Wednesday during Cleveland’s doubleheader sweep.
Green started eight games last year and one in 2017. He likely will go to camp next year as a contender for a rotation spot.
“I can’t really pinpoint one thing, what’s working and what’s not,” he said in comparing this season to last. “Just trying to get ahead of hitters and get the defense off the field early. I was confident last year, just didn’t have the results that I’ve had this year so far.”
His performance was part of another complete team effort.
“It just shows how big our heart is for the game,” Gregorius said. “We had a tough doubleheader, but we bounced back against the best team in our division. That kept us going.”