After a Friday evening/early Saturday morning that Aaron Boone called “as unique a night as you’re going to have in the game,” the Yankees were in need of a lift Saturday afternoon.
Their players had gone down like bowling pins in a 14-inning loss to the Orioles that ended at 12:29 a.m. Saturday, and the Yankees arrived at the ballpark a bit bleary-eyed to discover that two of them, lefthander CC Sabathia and starting third baseman Brandon Drury, were headed for the disabled list.
“A little adversity has creeped in and hit us here, but our job is to go out there and perform,” Boone said late Saturday morning. “There’s no excuses.”
A few hours later, the Yankees didn’t play like a team looking for any.
Getting contributions from up and down the lineup, a patented escape act from David Robertson and six decent innings from Sonny Gray, the Yankees snapped their losing streak at two games with an 8-3 victory over the Orioles on a 42-degree afternoon at the Stadium.
“We needed to come back and get a win,” said Robertson, who protected a 5-3 lead by striking out Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop with runners at second and third to end the seventh inning. “We played 14 innings, we grinded really hard, we just didn’t come out on top. Quick turnaround, felt like we never left [the ballpark], but we showed up and played hard today and pulled out a win.”
The Yankees (5-4) — with call-up Jace Peterson getting the start in leftfield and rookie prospect Miguel Andujar manning third as part of a makeshift lineup — had 11 hits, including three by Ronald Torreyes and two each by Brett Gardner and Tyler Austin. Gardner, Aaron Judge and Austin each had two RBIs.
“The first two weeks of the season maybe haven’t gone exactly how we would have drawn them up with a couple guys going down and getting hurt, but that’s the nature of the game,” said Gardner, who went 2-for-3 with two walks. “Our depth has been tested a little bit, but we do have good depth. We’ll be all right . . . I’m proud of the way we played today.”
On a day when the Yankees needed some length by a starter after 265 pitches thrown by Sabathia and seven relievers, Gray (1-0) allowed three runs and four hits in six innings.
“We needed it,” said Gray, who walked two and struck out four. “Any time you lose a game like we did last night, it’s important to come in and win that next game.”
Orioles righthander Chris Tillman, who came in with a career ERA of 5.54 against the Yankees (22 appearances), allowed five runs, eight hits and four walks in 5 1⁄3 innings.
The Yankees took the lead for good in the sixth. Didi Gregorius drew a one-out walk, advanced to third on a flared single to left by Austin and scored on Andujar’s sacrifice fly to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Peterson singled to center and a wild pitch put runners on second and third. Austin Romine then hit a blooper behind first base that went off the fingers of Chris Davis’ glove as he attempted an over-the-shoulder catch. It was scored an RBI single and made it 5-3.
Judge had an RBI double and Austin added a two-run single as the Yankees took an 8-3 lead in the seventh.
“Little bit of a blow early in the season, obviously, with some of the injuries that have hit us hard,” Boone said afterward. “Over the course of a 162-game season, every team’s going to go through their share of times when it’s tough, whether it’s the injury bug or whatever, and you have to be able to weather the storm in those times. So really, really proud of the guys today. For all that went on last night to come out there and grind out the way they did, I think says a lot about those guys.”