They downplayed both the occasion and the opponent, but as the Orioles rounded the bases at a dizzying rate Friday night against the New York Yankees, the satisfaction emanating from the home dugout was palpable.
On an emotional night at Camden Yards, the Orioles honored Mike Flanagan in the best possible manner, with a 12-5 drubbing of the Yankees that featured the type of offensive performance that a pitcher like Flanagan so enjoyed.
“I thought about it. I’m sure some of our guys did, too,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I know Mike would have certainly liked it. I can tell you that.”
The Orioles wore a patch on their right jersey sleeve in honor of “Flanny,” a former Orioles player, coach, executive and MASN broadcaster who died Wednesday night at age 59.
The night started with a moment of silence to recognize Flanagan, included a moving video tribute after the first inning, and ended with the Orioles (52-77) securing their fifth straight victory, and just their second in 11 tries against the Yankees this season.
The Orioles had been outscored 82-30 over the first 11 matchups. But in front of an announced 32,762 at Camden Yards, they poured it on against beleaguered starter A.J. Burnett, who was booed early and often by the New York fans in attendance as he allowed nine earned runs over five innings.
The fifth straight win ties a season-high for the Orioles, and the 12 runs also matches a season best. The Orioles have outscored their opponents 36-9 during the streak, which they’ll get to enjoy at for least for another 36 hours as Saturday’s doubleheader was postponed because of Hurricane Irene.
“You got to try to put up as many as you can against a team with their kind of lineup, and Tommy [Hunter] did a good job of holding them down,” said catcher Matt Wieters, whose three-run homer in the sixth gave the Orioles a 12-1 lead. “They scored 22 yesterday, so when you get guys on base you want to drive them in.”
The Orioles certainly did that, pounding out 11 hits, nine of them for extra bases, and going 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Burnett, whose rotation spot certainly has to be on shaky ground, was dreadful, allowing the nine earned runs on nine hits, two homers, two walks and three wild pitches while needing 116 pitches to get just 15 outs.
During the Orioles’ six-run second inning, Burnett allowed six straight extra-base hits, including four straight doubles bookended by Mark Reynolds’ and J.J. Hardy home runs.
Reynolds a 3-2 Burnett pitch into the left-field seats. The 368-foot shot marked the third straight game in which the first baseman has hit a home run.
It also secured a third-straight season with 30 home runs for Reynolds, who now has 106 long balls over the past three seasons, tying for third in the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers' Prince Fielder during that stretch. Only Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira have hit more.
Ryan Adams, Nolan Reimold, Matt Angle and Robert Andino then hit doubles before Hardy bashed a 408-foot, two-run shot into the left-field seats. It was Hardy’s 25th of the season – one shy of his career high - and it also broke an 0-for-29 slump against the Yankees this year.
“I think he’d tell you he wasn’t at his best today,” Hardy said of Burnett. “Even not at his best, we’ve got to put together some pretty good at-bats. He’s got some really good stuff, so they’re not comfortable at-bats by any means.”
The run support was plenty for Hunter, who improved to 3-2 on the season. He allowed four earned runs on five hits while striking out four over seven innings.
Jorge Posada put the Yankees on the board with a solo homer in the fifth, cutting the Orioles’ lead to 7-1.
Alex Rodriguez hit a solo shot in the seventh, and Nick Swisher connected for a two-run shot onto Eutaw Street later that inning, but all that did is cut the Orioles’ deficit to 12-4.
“Run support,” said Hunter, summing up the key to his outing. “You love to see it, and you hate to have it against you. It's one of those things, when they go out and score runs, you have to go out and throw strikes. They played defense behind me, they hit the ball, they played well tonight.”
And the Orioles did it on a fitting night, when they paid tribute to one of the franchise’s best pitchers. Hunter hasn’t even been an Oriole for a month, but it didn’t take him long to recognize the impact Flanagan has had on the organization.
“He touched a lot of people,” Hunter said. “That's very evident from the way it's been going around. Guys loved him. It's one of those things where you wish you got to know a guy like that a little better. Just say prayers for his family.”
NOTES: Adam Jones (chest soreness) missed a second consecutive game and acknowledged that he still feels some discomfort when he swings … Second baseman Brian Roberts (concussions) got through his baseball activities today … Jason Berken (right forearm strain) has experienced no discomfort lately, but he’s yet to start his throwing program … Chris Davis (right shoulder strain) has also felt no pain through the early stages of his rehab program … Reliever Troy Patton is expected to leave the team Saturday and return to Houston for a Monday hearing on his driving while intoxicated charge from January. The Orioles could put him on the restricted list and call up a pitcher for Sunday’s doubleheader.