BALTIMORE -- After the Orioles returned from their long West Coast trip Aug. 18, their fans were heartened because the team was still in contention and would play 16 of their next 19 games at home.
The Orioles concluded that stretch in deflating fashion, as they lost, 9-1, to the New York Yankees before 14,946 at Oriole Park Sept. 7.
For the fourth straight game, an Orioles starter turned in a short outing. Right-hander Kevin Gausman lasted just three innings and gave up five runs against the Yankees.
Along with Gausman, right-handers Chris Tillman (four innings), Dylan Bundy (four-plus) and Jeremy Hellickson (2.1) combined for 13.1 innings, although the Orioles won two of those games.
In the 19-game stretch, the Orioles went 12-7, including a three-game sweep at Boston.
"It's there for us. It's still there for us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We're going to have to have a little help because if you won every game you play, somebody's got to lose. So you control some things, but [some] you don't. We've stayed engaged in the competition. I still think it's going to be there for us, but it's going to be hard."
With 22 games to play, the Orioles still are in the American League wild-card hunt, but they begin a difficult 10-game road trip with three games in Cleveland and follow it with three in Toronto and four at the Yankees.
Fifteen of the Orioles' final 22 games are on the road, where they're 27-39.
Center fielder Adam Jones has no doubt the Orioles can make the postseason.
"That's the beauty of it, that's the beauty," he said. "If you're fighting for something after the All-Star break, if you're fighting for a playoff spot, every game is big. I've been here five years before when you played 162 games and all 162 games meant nothing. Just go out there and give it your all. Well, we've got 20-some games left. Let's see how interesting we can make it."
Gausman's start equaled his second-shortest of the season.
"Overall, just wasn't throwing enough strikes," Gausman said. " Tried to go deep into the game, especially [because] this was a pretty important game for us. I'm pretty mad at myself for just kind of going out and throwing 80-some pitches in three innings and getting out of there. That's something I've got to be better at."
Before the game, right-hander Mike Wright was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, and that gave Showalter 12 pitchers in his bullpen. Wright was the first of five relievers used.
Showalter has long decried the use of an expanded September roster, but having Wright, left-hander Donnie Hart and right-handers Richard Rodriguez and Jimmy Yacabonis available, four of the five pitchers added since Sept. 1, has helped him.
The Yankees hit four home runs in the game. Aaron Judge hit a two-run shot to center field in the first, his 39th, and his ninth in 15 games against the Orioles.
Wright allowed a two-run homer to Chase Headley in the fifth; Hart gave up a bases-empty shot to Starlin Castro in the sixth; and Rodriguez gave up one to Todd Frazier in the seventh.
It was a difficult day for Showalter, who learned of Gene Michael's death on his way to the ballpark. Michael, who died at 79, was a longtime major league player, coach, manager and executive, and gave Showalter his first major league managerial job with the Yankees in 1992 when Showalter was 35.
"I've cried enough already," Showalter said before the game. "Best baseball evaluator I ever saw."
Orioles top prospect Austin Hays made his major league debut in right field in the ninth inning and ended the game by grounding out to shortstop.
"It was very surreal to be able to step in a big league box for the first time," Hays said. "That's better than I ever could have imagined. I wish the circumstances would have been different and could have gotten a ‘W' today."
NOTES: Showalter said he hopes shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has been out since mid-June with a fractured wrist and elbow soreness, can be activated Sept. 8. … Minor league right-handed pitcher Jon Keller, who was at Single-A Frederick, was sent to the Colorado Rockies as the player to be named later in the deal that brought right right-hander Miguel Castro to the Orioles in April. … Because of Hurricane Irma, Frederick's playoff series with Lynchburg has been reduced to a best-of-three series. The only home game for the Keys is on Sept. 7. ... Left-handed pitcher Wade Miley (8-11, 4.91) faces right-hander Mike Clevinger (8-5, 3.50) as the Orioles begin a three-game series at Cleveland Sept. 8. … Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa will get his first start with the Orioles Sept. 9
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen PressBox