By Barry M. Bloom and Brittany Ghiroli
BALTIMORE -- The Yankees had an opportunity to secure home-field advantage in Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, but lost the first contest of Saturday's split day-night doubleheader to the Orioles, 9-2, at Camden Yards.
The Yanks, who clinched a Wild Card berth on Thursday night with a win over Boston in the regular-season Yankee Stadium finale, could still wrap up home-field advantage on Saturday with a victory in the nightcap. Any combination of one Yankee win or an Astros loss will guarantee that the Yankees host the Wild Card Game on Tuesday night. If the Yankees and Astros tie, Houston will host the Wild Card game because it won the regular-season series, 4-3.
If the Yankees win the top Wild Card spot, they could host the Angels, Rangers or Astros. All three are still in the running for a Wild Card spot. The Rangers could clinch the AL West with a win Sunday or a loss by the Astros on Saturday night or Sunday. The Angels trail the Astros by a half-game for the second Wild Card spot.
"The important thing is that we get the home-field advantage, and we're going to do everything we can to do it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Let's see what happens."
The Orioles scored five times in 5 2/3 innings against New York starter Ivan Nova, including Manny Machado's 34th homer, coming with two outs and nobody on in the fifth inning. Gerardo Parra went 4-for-5 and added three RBIs for the O's.
Meanwhile, Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen held the Bombers to four hits and two runs in six-plus innings to earn the win.
"Wei-Yin was good. He finished the season showing us the quality that he brought most of the year," O's manager Buck Showalter said of free-agent-to-be Chen, who exited to an ovation from the home crowd. "That probably put him in the top seven or eight in ERA in the American League. He was good, really good. I thought the last five or six times out, the depth of his breaking ball and arm speed on the changeup was really an improvement."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Missed opportunities: The Yanks had scoring chances against Chen early. Chris Young tripled to open the second, but was stranded when the next three batters couldn't get the ball out of the infield. In the third, Brendan Ryan was thrown out at third trying to advance on Brett Gardner's single to left field. Gardner was stranded on second. Gardner, who wasn't scheduled to start in the second game, said that having the Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium "is important."
"During the course of the season, we've played better at home than we have on road," he said. "I know it's only a one-game series, so really anything can happen. But it's important to us not only to finish the season strong and get a win, but to have that game at home."
Manny keeps cruising: Machado's career year continued as the third baseman went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, including his 34th homer. The All-Star, who has played in every game this season, raised his average to .288.
"I'm a lot stronger. I have an approach. I'm not going up there and just swinging at pitches I don't want to be swinging at," Machado said. "There's really nothing to it. I'm just becoming a better hitter."
Chen's finale: In what was widely regarded as his final start with Baltimore, Chen pitched into the seventh inning. Chen cruised through six scoreless innings and exited in the seventh with two runners on, both of whom scored. His 3.34 ERA is his best in four Major League seasons.
"Yes, it's very tough to say goodbye to all the people here, because during these four years, we played alongside each other. There were ups, there were downs. And when I'm down, they always encouraged me, they helped me a lot," Chen said through his interpreter. "So, I think it's really tough to say goodbye to everybody here." More >
With runners on second and third in the seventh, Chris Davis swung and missed a Nick Goody pitch that bounced away from catcher John Ryan Murphy. Nolan Reimold scored on the apparent wild pitch. Yankees manager Joe Girardi challenged the call. After a 2 minute, 28 second review, the call was overturned and Reimold was sent back to third base. The ruling was that the ball hit Davis on the swing and was considered a dead ball, so the runner could not advance.
INJURY UPDATES Jonathan Schoop, hit with a pitch on Thursday, did not play Game 1 on Saturday, and manager Buck Showalter said Schoop would get another test. An initial X-ray was negative. Schoop, who missed time this season with a right knee injury, is also slated to get an MRI on his knee on Monday.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: The Yankees close the regular season on Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET at Camden Yards with Michael Pineda (12-9, 4.24 ERA) on the hill.
Orioles:The Orioles' Opening Day starter, Chris Tillman, will pitch the regular-season finale as well. Tillman is 10-11 with a 5.05 ERA on the season.
The game is available to stream free out of market on live on MLB.TV, presented by AT&T. Blackout restrictions apply.