NEW YORK – Less than two weeks into the season, the Orioles' ability to bounce back from difficult defeats has already been tested. Friday night's was a hard one to swallow — a game lost on a dropped fly ball that plated three runs and a rally-killing triple play.
These Orioles, however, showed their mettle Saturday, getting a much-needed jolt from the bottom of the batting order in a 5-3 win over the New York Yankees in front of an announced 41,851 at Yankee Stadium.
“I can look at highlights tonight,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I wasn't going to [Friday] night. That's one of the characteristics of our club. They don't sit there. … They don't dwell on past streaks, good or bad. [They] turn the page.”
The win gave the Orioles (6-5) their seventh victory in their last 10 regular-season games in the Bronx.
After the Orioles dropped their series opener in Boston on Monday — when Daniel Nava broke a scoreless tie with a three-run homer in the seventh inning — they rebounded to take the final two games at Fenway Park.
Saturday's rebound win put the Orioles a victory away from taking both series on this six-game road trip through the American League East gantlet of Boston and New York.
“It's testing our resiliency so early,” winning pitcher Jason Hammel said. “It's what we're made of, and that's what we did all last year, so nothing's changed there. Obviously, you turn the page from last year, but we're still building off things that we did well last year, and that's one of the things we did.”
Center fielder Adam Jones and first baseman Chris Davis have bolstered the Orioles lineup through the early going, slugging at a .792 clip heading into Saturday's game while the rest of the team recorded a .352 slugging percentage.
Saturday, they got some help, as the Orioles hit three homers off Yankees starter Phil Hughes, including solo shots from No. 8 hitter Ryan Flaherty and No. 9 hitter Nolan Reimold.
“Nolan's capable of hitting high in the order,” Showalter said. “I think Ryan's capable of that. You trust their track records and know that there are good things to come down the road.”
Flaherty, who snapped an 0-for-17 start to his season with a two-out, ninth-inning single in the Orioles' 8-5 comeback win Wednesday, hit his first homer of the season in his next at-bat — a second-inning solo homer Saturday that gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
Reimold's homer, which came in the fourth inning, was just the second hit in 35 at-bats for Orioles designated hitters this season.
“That's what it takes to win a ballgame, not just two or three guys who are going to go out there every night and win it for us,” said right fielder Nick Markakis, who hit a solo homer in the third inning that gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. “As balanced as our lineup is one through nine, it makes it tough for the opposing pitchers, and I think pitchers realize that. I'd stack our lineup up against anybody's. We just need to continue what we're doing and get on base and timely hitting.”
Six of the nine hits Hughes allowed were for extra-bases — three homers and three doubles — including two doubles by leadoff hitter Nate McLouth, who had three hits on the day.
Hughes (0-2) started Saturday's game in part because Sunday's expected starter Andy Pettitte had to be pushed back with back spasms. The right-hander left the game without recording an out in the fourth, and he walked off the field to a loud chorus of boos.
Making his third start of the season, Hammel (2-1) earned his first win against the Yankees since Sept. 2, 2007. He battled through six innings, giving the Orioles back-to-back quality starts for the first time this season after Miguel Gonzalez allowed two earned runs through six innings Friday night.
Hammel allowed three runs — his only two earned runs coming off solo homers by Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells — over six innings, allowing eight hits and striking out four while walking one.
“Every pitcher after a loss wants to be the stopper,” Hammel said. “Any extended losses, losing streaks can weigh on you after a while. It's the first couple weeks of the season here. We're trying to get off on the right start.”
Hammel stranded six baserunners, including three in scoring position, and he held the Yankees (5-5) hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“His command was good,” Showalter said. “He threw a lot of strikes [and] got some big outs when he needed it. He made the lead matter. You've got to have a quality start. He continues to keep our bullpen in a position where they can do what they do. [If] we get deep in the game like we did the last two nights, it keeps everybody healthy and in a position to do what they do.”
The bend-but-don't-break Orioles bullpen did its job to preserve the win. Left-hander Brian Matusz stranded a runner on second in the seventh by getting Hafner to pop up to shortstop after two loud fly-ball outs to center field.
And despite allowing two hits in the eighth, right-hander Darren O'Day stranded both runners with a strikeout of pinch hitter Brennan Boesch.
Jim Johnson retired the Yankees in order in the ninth for his fifth save.
“We're spoiled,” Hammel said of the bullpen. “We're really spoiled. Those guys down there, you hand the ball over to the bullpen right now, we honestly feel like its game over. They shorten the game for us so much. I'd like to get deeper — seventh or eighth inning — and that will come, but they give us so much confidence. Everybody out there does their job, and Buck does a great job of matching up with them.”