Bud Norris leads way in nightcap, 5-0, as Orioles sweep doubleheader against Yankees

September 12, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles' final homestand of the regular season was supposed to be one of celebration. All signs pointed to the club's clinching its first American League East title since 1997 at Camden Yards, and Friday's split doubleheader against the New York Yankees gave the Orioles a chance to take two more sizable steps toward the postseason.

Instead, their clubhouse was rocked Friday morning by the news that infielder Chris Davis, one of the team's most popular and recognizable players, had been handed a 25-game suspension for a second failed drug test for an amphetamine. Davis, who would serve part of the ban in the postseason should the Orioles get there, later disclosed in a statement that the stimulant was Adderall.

This Orioles already have overcome season-ending injuries to catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado with a next-man-up mentality, but even as they opened Friday's twin bill with a 2-1 victory and closed it with a 5-0 win, they conceded Friday that the development was unique.

“It's similar but different,” reliever Darren O'Day said between games. “You can't really predict injuries. You failed one test. You can't put anything in jeopardy and mess around. Yeah, it's going to be more to overcome, for sure.”

In their first two games without Davis, the Orioles showed their resilience yet again in their first doubleheader sweep of the Yankees since Sept. 24, 1984.

Down to their final out in their first game, the Orioles rallied for a win on Jimmy Paredes' pinch-hit, bases-loaded, two-run double in the bottom of the 11th inning for their ninth walk-off win of the season.

And in the nightcap, the Orioles won with less drama, relying on a dominating pitching performance by right-hander Bud Norris, who recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts — tied for the most by an Orioles starter this season — in their shutout victory. The Orioles now have won six straight, a new season high, and have a five-game winning streak against the Yankees.

In one day, the Orioles (88-59) dropped their magic number from eight to five — the second-place Toronto Blue Jays lost to Tampa Bay, 1-0 — meaning they could clinch the division as early as Monday. With 15 games to play in the regular season, the Orioles lead the Blue Jays by 11 1/2 games and the Yankees by 12 1/2.

Still, manager Buck Showalter acknowledged that the Orioles needed a lift Friday.

“To try to underplay that wouldn't be completely frank about it,” Showalter said of Davis' suspension. “But I think everybody's still kind of putting their arms around it. Like I said before, we've had a lot of challenges, some of them self-inflicted, and you've got to fight your way through it, and we did that today with the pitching.”

In 18 games without Davis this season — he missed two weeks with an oblique injury in late April and early May — the Orioles are 16-4. In seven games in which key players have served suspensions —Machado served a five-game suspension for tossing a bat earlier this season — they are 6-1.

The Orioles held the Yankees to one run over 20 innings Friday, including seven shutout innings from Norris. Combined with right-hander Kevin Gausman, who threw seven shutout innings in the day's opening game, Orioles starters held the Yankees scoreless for 14 innings Friday.

"The game usually gives you back kind of what you put into it,” Showalter said. “Everybody's putting something into it. We pitched well for 20 innings. Real well. Bud was good, and bullpen finished it up. A lot of quality pitching, really, on both sides. There weren't a whole lot of runs scored. Good pitching solves a lot of problems, issues, whatever you might want to call it. That's usually where it starts."

After both clubs went scoreless through 10 innings of their opener, the Yankees (75-71) took the lead on left fielder Chris Young's solo homer off reliever Brad Brach (7-1), who offered a 2-2 pitch that Young blasted deep into the left-field stands.

The Orioles didn't have a runner reach second base until the eighth inning. They loaded the bases in three of their final four innings but couldn't score until their final at-bat.

Designated hitter Nelson Cruz opened the 11th with a leadoff walk. Pinch runner David Lough moved to second on Ryan Flaherty's sacrifice bunt. Shortstop J.J. Hardy then was hit by a pitch to place runners at first and second.

Pinch hitter Steve Clevenger drew a five-pitch, two-out walk, and Paredes lined the first pitch he saw from right-hander Adam Warren (3-6) down the right-field line for the game-winner.

Gausman recorded his first career scoreless outing of seven or more innings, tying his career high with seven strikeouts in seven innings while allowing seven hits and two walks.

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