But no team has been more yielding than the Orioles, whom the Yankees have beaten in 12 of 18 games, with one more matchup scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
“They’re a really good team, and offensively they’ve always been extremely dangerous,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “This year, we’ve played better against them, and we’ve been able to contain their offense a little bit more. To be able to do what we’ve done the last few days, our pitchers have done a really good job.”
The won-lost record tells only part of the story. Despite an Orioles roster that leads Major League Baseball with 225 home runs, the Yankees have outscored Baltimore by 30-10 in the first three games of this four-game series. Over the past six games, including three at Camden Yards last week, the margin has been 52-22.
And even with a game to go, the Yankees have scored more runs against the Orioles this season, 150, than they have against any opponent in a single season for more than six decades. In 1956, they scored 158 against the Kansas City Athletics and 152 against the Washington Senators.
That Yankees team went on to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. With no head-to-head meetings remaining with the Red Sox, this Yankees team may have to settle for a wild-card playoff spot and the randomness of a one-game play-in.
Because of a quirk in this year’s schedule, the final regular-season meeting between the Yankees and Red Sox was unusually early — Sept. 3. Even after winning three of the four games in their last series against Boston, the Yankees remained three and a half games behind in the division race. By Saturday night, they had narrowed the gap only slightly, to three games.
“Do you wish you we more in control of your own destiny? Absolutely,” Girardi said. “But we played them 19 times. You wish you had another series with them, but that’s not the case.”
The Yankees’ secret weapon remains the rest of the A.L. East: Of their 14 remaining games, 10 are against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Orioles, and seven are at home.
In Saturday’s rout, the Yankees got three-run homers from Didi Gregorius and Greg Bird, who each also hit a home run on Friday, to take a 6-0 lead after four innings. The Yankees tacked on another run via a single by Jacoby Ellsbury, who had three hits on Saturday and is batting .419 (18 for 43) in September. Todd Frazier added a two-run homer, his 26th of the year, in the seventh inning.
Gregorius’s home run was his 23rd of the season, extending his career high and putting him within one of the record for a Yankees shortstop, set by Derek Jeter in 1999.
The offensive eruption provided a cushion for starter Jordan Montgomery, who allowed four hits in six innings, walked one and struck out six. This was the second time Montgomery (8-7) had beaten Baltimore at home this year.
Reliever Chasen Shreve allowed a two-run homer to Austin Hays in the ninth and then, one strike from ending the game, walked the bases loaded. Giovanny Gallegos replaced him and balked in the Orioles’ third run, forcing Girardi to get his closer, Aroldis Chapman, up in the bullpen. But Gallegos struck out Anthony Santander to end the game.
“We’re on a nice little run right now,” said Frazier, who hit a three-run homer in Thursday’s 13-5 victory. “We’re putting up runs in bunches and putting a lot of pressure on the other teams in the race. You need all the chess pieces to line up, and right now, we got a whole bunch.”
Girardi announced a switch in the starting rotation for the next three days: Sonny Gray will start the series finale against Baltimore Sunday afternoon. Jaime Garcia will open the three-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Monday night, and C. C. Sabathia, who had been scheduled to start Sunday, will move to Tuesday. Girardi said he wanted to avoid putting Sabathia and his troublesome right knee on the unforgiving artificial turf at the Rogers Centre, where the Yankees start a three-game series against the Blue Jays on Friday night. By starting on Tuesday, Sabathia would not be scheduled to pitch again until Monday, Sept. 25, when the Yankees return home to play the Kansas City Royals.