NEW YORK -- Buck Showalter had a tough decision to make. The Orioles manager knew New York Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge had pummeled his team this season.
The Orioles, who are on the fringes of the wild-card race, had lost eight of their first nine on this three-city road trip and nine of 10 overall to fall 5.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second wild-card spot.
With a two-run lead in the ninth inning, and a runner on third, Judge was due up, and Showalter elected to order an intentional walk. His closer, Zach Britton wasn't pleased.
But an annoyed Britton struck out New York’s Gary Sanchez, and the Orioles escaped Yankee Stadium with a 6-4 win before 38,189 on Sept. 17.
"It’s not something I would have chose," Britton said. "Obviously, I wanted to attack Judge. I like my chances there. But it’s not my call."
Showalter, trying to desperately for a win in a ballpark where the Orioles lost eight of 10, and where his team had been outscored 30-10 in the first three games this series, knew the walk would rankle Britton.
"I’m trying to give us the best chance to win, OK?" Showalter said. "I know Zach wasn’t happy about it. That’s not the way he’s wired."
Showalter was asked if he made the decision because of Judge’s gaudy stat line against the Orioles. Judge hit 11 home runs, drove in 24 and scored 31 runs in 19 games when facing his club.
"If that’s the case, we’d walk just about all of them," Showalter retorted.
After the strikeout, the Orioles headed for home where they’ll play three games with the AL East leading Boston Red Sox. With 12 games left, they’re 73-77 and must go 8-4 to extend their streak of non-losing seasons to six.
Ubaldo Jimenez allowed a run on three hits in five innings and was pulled after 100 pitches.
Jimenez had watched the Yankees offensive demonstration against the Orioles. In 19 games, they scored a record 154 runs, the most the Orioles allowed against any team in any season.
"You’ve seen everything they’ve done, especially in the last few days scoring a lot of runs," Jimenez said. "But it’s a matter of them having a really good lineup, especially in this ballpark, everything can be a home run. But I think that I just went out there to try to compete. That was the kind of approach I had, to attack the hitter and make them swing the bat."
Tim Beckham, who had 50 hits in August, the second most in any month in club history, has had a rockier time in September. The shortstop cracked a three-run home run, his 22nd of the season and 10th with the Orioles in the fourth off Sonny Gray for a 5-1 lead.
"It’s impossible to do what he was doing," Showalter said. "If you ran those August numbers over a season, he’d probably have the best year in the history of baseball, so I try to keep that in mind. This is hard to do, and we’re facing good pitching."
Beckham was confident that Britton would retire Sanchez.
"We got Zach Britton on the mound, I’m thinking we’re going to win the ballgame," Beckham said. "That’s how I’m thinking every time he’s in the ballgame. I’m sure that’s how everyone in this clubhouse feels when he gets the ball on the mound. So, all the confidence in the world in Zach and the fact that we walked Judge is no big deal, and we get the next guy. If we didn’t walk Judge, he would have gotten Judge, too. My thoughts are we are winning the game, no doubt."
The Orioles began the road trip two games behind the Twins and lost 3 1/2 games in the standings over the last 10 days.
"It’s history. We’ve got a winning streak going," Showalter said. "If we pitch like we pitched today, we’ve got a chance to run some wins off, and I wouldn’t sell us short. That’s the way we’re looking at it. If we can stay in the games with starting pitching, we’ve got a chance to make a run at it."
NOTES: LHP Tanner Scott was added to the roster and RHP Richard Rodriguez was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. … CF Adam Jones was rested. Showalter said that Jones, who also sat out Sept. 15, was feeling sore from the series in Toronto played on artificial turf. … RHP Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.03) faces RHP Doug Fister (5-8, 4.40) in the opener against the Red Sox in Baltimore Sept. 18.
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