Didi's 4 RBIs lift Yanks in Girardi's 900th NY win
By Brittany Ghiroli and Roger Rubin
NEW YORK -- As far as the Yankees are concerned, the American League East race is far from over. New York, which manager Joe Girardi has repeatedly said is not content with the top AL Wild Card spot, used a four-RBI night from Didi Gregorius and another dominant eight-inning start from Luis Severino to win for the sixth time in seven games with Friday's 8-2 victory over the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
The win -- Girardi's 900th as Yankees manager -- kept the Yanks from losing ground on the first-place Red Sox as they try to pull off a late surge. New York remained three games behind Boston, which beat Tampa Bay in 15 innings Friday night.
"We have to bear down in these last couple weeks and go for the playoffs," Gregorius said. "That's what we're shooting for."
For the O's, it marked their eighth loss in nine games, and kept them 5 1/2 behind the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Gregorius, who had a sacrifice fly in the first inning, gave the Yanks a lead they'd never relinquish with a two-run homer off Orioles reliever Miguel Castro in the fifth. Gregorius sent an 0-1 pitch over the fence to mark No. 22 on the year. He added his fourth RBI on another sacrifice fly, this one part of a three-run seventh that gave the Yankees some cushion.
"I was looking fastball and he threw me a slider over the middle," Gregorius said.
"Look at the night Didi had," Girardi said. "He had a huge night for us tonight. He had four RBIs and continues to play really well. And that's not even talking about the five tough plays he made [in the field] tonight."
Severino, meanwhile, continued to solidify his ace status, holding Baltimore to just two runs on three hits. The Yankees righty, who entered the day with an AL-best 2.07 second-half ERA, struck out seven en route to his 13th win. The only blemish on Severino's night was Welington Castillo's homer. The O's catcher took him deep for a two-run blast in the top of the second inning.
"He's tough. He's got a plus fastball and a plus slider," Castillo said. "You've just got to go out there and wait for one pitch and try not to miss it, because he doesn't make many mistakes."
The Yankees also got a homer from Greg Bird, who returned to the starting lineup Friday after missing time with a lower back injury.
Baltimore's Gabriel Ynoa lasted 4 1/3 innings in his second start as an Oriole. Ynoa surrendered three runs, two earned.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Didi goes deep: With the game tied at 2, Ynoa walked Aaron Judge to end his evening. Gregorius sent the second pitch he saw from Castro, an 0-1 slider, over the right-center-field fence to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead with one out in the fifth.
"That's unfortunate," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Castro's hanging slider. "They're all the right pitch if you get them in the right place. Some just have a better percentage in your favor because of somebody's tendency if you get the ball in the right place, but it seemed like every time we missed a spot, they've really been on it."
Severino dazzles: A half-inning before Gregorius put the Yankees ahead, the O's threatened with a two-out double by Pedro Alvarez. But Severino struck out rookie Austin Hays to end the inning.
"Every time the manager gives me the ball, I want to take advantage of the opportunity and show that I can pitch now and that I can pitch in the future as well." -- Ynoa, on auditioning for a potential starting role next spring
"To be a championship team, you have to have that. There's always going to be those few guys who get a ton of attention, but it takes more than that. It takes a lot more than that to win." -- Girardi, on how the team wins even when Judge and Gary Sanchez aren't headliners
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The Yankees' Matt Holliday was 2-for-4 batting out of the eighth spot in the lineup. Holliday hadn't hit that low in a batting order since his rookie season of 2004.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Baltimore will send Jeremy Hellickson to the mound against the Yankees on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. ET. Hellickson is coming off a quality start last Sunday, but he did allow two home runs and continues to post low strikeout totals. Over his last five outings, the right-hander has been unable to strike out more than two batters.
Yankees:Jordan Montgomery will make the 27th start of his rookie season Saturday. Montgomery seeks his first victory since July 25, a run of seven starts in which he has averaged about four innings per outing. In his last three starts, he hasn't completed five innings. Infielder Chase Headley will be looking to extend a 13-game hitting streak.