But these O's maintain that their mindset, with just under 60 regular-season games to go, is on winning the division. And Monday's win was another step in the right direction.
"Is there another one to have?" manager Buck Showalter said of his club's mentality following a win in which it scored 11 unanswered runs. "That's why we get up in the morning, to try to win your division. It's going to be hard. They're extremely good. There are other teams trying to do the same thing, so we've got our work cut out for us. But we've had a couple good tests here and responded well."
Orioles starter Chris Tillman's gusto was tested early as the 24-year-old got knocked around in the first inning, yielding five runs-- including three before recording the first out -- in a 36-pitch frame. But Tillman -- who has been sick for days and on a "Z-Pak" antibiotic -- found a way to keep himself from being knocked out early. Crediting catcher Matt Wieters, who recognized from the outset that Tillman was firing less than his "A-game," the pair switched to a steady diet of offspeed pitches, keeping the Yankees off balance and Tillman in the game for another four scoreless innings.
"That first inning took it out of him," Wieters said of Tillman, who was sent home early on Monday night, hoping to feel better. "It was a stressful and tough first inning to come out of the bullpen and give up a five-spot real quick. That's what's really impressive about him. He's still 24 years old, and he knew if he could keep us in there, we'd have a chance."
"Without him back there tonight, I think it would have been a long night for me," Tillman said of Wieters, who called some out-of-the-ordinary pitch sequences to help the right-hander extend his stay. "Not that it wasn't [a long night], but I think him and the offense deserve a lot of the credit tonight, not me."
Down five runs, Baltimore roared back, putting together its second seven-run inning of the season -- the first since May 5 -- off Yankees starter Ivan Nova, who surrendered a career-high nine earned runs. The second-inning barrage -- all with two outs -- started with Mark Reynolds' RBI ground-rule double, and red-hot No. 9 hitter Omar Quintanilla followed with a two-run single. Leadoff man Nick Markakis, who continues to flourish since taking over top-of-the-order duties, collected the first of his three hits on the night, and after J.J. Hardy walked, Chris Davis delivered the big blow with a grand slam.
"I left a hanging curveball, and he hit a homer," Nova said of the 0-1 offering Davis tattooed. "Tonight was a tough night for me. I felt like I had command of my pitches; I just felt like I got hit."
Davis' blast put the Orioles ahead by two and gave him three homers and 10 RBIs over his last six games. Asked if Tuesday's win was a galvanizing one for the club, Davis said: "You could say that. Any game you play a division rival, you want to win if you're at their place.
"We were actually talking about it on the bench. We seem to buckle down when we play here and we play in Boston. If we can just start doing that every game and focusing in, hopefully not giving up five runs at the beginning of every game, we have the ability to go out there and put up a lot of runs."
Baltimore kept piling on, tacking on a run each in the third and fifth innings. Former Yankees infielder Wilson Betemit, who also had three hits, doubled in Lew Ford for a third-inning run after Ford's one-out double, which marked his first Major League hit since Sept. 21, 2007. Betemit also singled in Adam Jones in the fifth, chasing Nova from the game. The Orioles recorded 10 hits and a walk off Nova -- who hadn't allowed more than six earned runs during an outing in a span of 20 starts -- with Markakis adding a two-run homers in the eighth.
"I guess the hits were contagious tonight," said Quintanilla, who is hitting .304 since joining the Orioles. "This team's resilient. It was still early in the game and we know we had a lot of ballgame to play, and we started putting hits together. The next thing you, know we're ahead."
Tillman, propped back up by his offense, settled in and completed five innings, retiring 13 of his last 15 batters. Troy Patton tossed two innings in relief of Tillman.