BALTIMORE - Johnny Damon had an outstanding day at the plate, scoring four runs and collecting three hits and two RBIs to help the New York Yankees end a three-game skid.
Yet, it was a defensive gem by the left fielder in Sunday’s 10-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles that drew the most praise.
Baltimore had cut a 4-0 lead in half and had runners at the corners with two outs in the fourth inning when Damon sprinted far to his left to snare a rising liner by Brian Roberts and end the threat.
“That was the key play in the game,” Orioles interim manager Dave Trembley said. “You can take all the other stuff on both sides, and it kind of balances out. Both teams hit the heck out of the ball.”
Had the ball dropped in, Baltimore would have pulled even and had the potential go-ahead run at second. Instead, the Orioles never led in having their six-game winning streak end.
“I thought I had a double. Game tied,” Roberts said.
Damon, who usually plays center field, said: “I just had to get used to the angles out there. I’ve been working hard, trying to figure out how the ball is going to spin off the hitter’s bat. Fortunately, today I was able to run down a ball at a critical time in the game.”
Manager Joe Torre was delighted with all facets of Damon’s play, especially because it enabled the Yankees to avoid a three-game sweep.
“He had a great game, a great game. Defensively and offensively,” Torre said.
Speaking specifically of the catch, the manager said, “It was big. Anytime you save runs it’s huge.”
New York’s Alex Rodriguez, seeking his 500th home run, went 0-for-2 with a run-scoring grounder and three walks. He received a four-pitch walk from Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera in the fifth inning, was walked intentionally in the seventh and reached on a five-pitch walk in the eighth.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“We made big pitches to him, and he probably helped us out a little bit. He chased some pitches out of the strike zone,” Trembley said.
New York shortstop Derek Jeter went 2-for-3 with two walks. He now has 7,218 at-bats, moving past Babe Ruth into fifth place on the Yankees’ career list, but left the game in the eighth inning with a sore shoulder — the result of a play at the plate six innings earlier.
“He did pretty well with it but it started to get tender,” Torre said.
Chien-Ming Wang (12-5) gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings to help New York pull within four of the wild-card lead. He is 5-1 in his last six starts.
The Yankees led 5-4 before pulling away with a five-run eighth. Damon doubled and scored, and Bobby Abreu had a two-run single.
Roberts homered, Nick Markakis had three hits and Paul Bako drew a career-high four walks for the Orioles, who were denied a season-high seventh straight victory. The loss also ended Baltimore’s eight-game home winning streak.
HBT: Controversial umpire Angel Hernandez blew another call that nearly cost the White Sox a win on Friday, earning the ire of manager Robin Ventura.
Add another near miss in this 2013 baseball season - this time it was Detroit's Anibal Sanchez falling just short of a no-hitter.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.