NEW YORK — Remember the New York Yankees?
That shell of a franchise that was left for dead after being swept last weekend at Camden Yards, the mega-salaried club that just couldn’t overcome injuries and old age?
Well, after beating Baltimore 5-4, on a scorching Saturday afternoon in the Bronx, the Yankees have risen like a phoenix and flown a half-game ahead of the Orioles and into second place in the American League East.
It’s the first time the Yankees (48-39) – winners of six straight — have been by themselves in second place since June 12. Conversely, the Orioles (48-40) hadn’t been out of second since that date — but losing four of five on this trip has a way of switching up the standings.
Orioles starter Chris Tillman (10-3) was trying to extend a personal record after winning his past seven decisions in a span of eight starts. He was staked to a 3-0 lead by the second but couldn’t hold it, getting tagged with his first loss since May 19 and thwarted in his bid to become the first Oriole to win eight straight decisions since Erik Bedard won nine consecutive in 2007.
The Orioles’ first runs of the day, however, came with some significance — at least in the career of slugging first baseman Chris Davis. With two outs and one on in the first, Davis crushed an 89 mph cutter from Andy Pettitte to deep center for his major league leading 33rd home run. The two-run shot gave Davis 85 RBI on the season.
It’s the most pre-break homers since San Francisco’s Barry Bonds and Arizona’s Luis Gonzalez in 2001. Bonds had 39 homers in 81 games and Gonzalez had 35 in 89 games that season. It’s the most homers pre-break for an AL player since Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. hit 35 in 1998.