The New York Yankees are climbing the American League wild card charts and hope to make up even more ground Thursday when they close out a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees are now one game off the final postseason berth thanks to wins in three of four games, including Wednesday's 5-4 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards. It was the second straight come-from-behind win, as the Yankees posted two runs in the top of the ninth for a safe cushion.
Robinson Cano led off the ninth with a home run and Lyle Overbay later added an RBI single for a 5-3 lead. Mariano Rivera gave up a two-out run-scoring single in the bottom half to Brian Roberts, but struck out Manny Machado to end the game. Rivera recorded his 79th career save against the O's, the most by any pitcher against any team in major league history.
"We get down tonight and come back again. We were able to take the lead in the ninth. We get a huge homer by Robbie and then a huge hit by Lyle that winds up being a lot bigger," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez hit solo homers, while starting pitcher Andy Pettitte went 6 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on nine hits. David Robertson pitched the eighth to pick up the win.
Prior to the game the Yankees placed shortstop Derek Jeter on the disabled list with an ankle injury, officially ending his injury-ravaged season. He played just 17 games this season, batting .190 with a home run and seven RBI.
It's very disappointing not to be able to play, especially this time of year. This is when I want to play the most," Jeter said. "Unfortunately, that's not the case. The entire year has been pretty much a nightmare for me physically, so I guess it's fitting that it ends like this."
Rodriguez is dealing with a left hamstring issue, so Girardi put him in the designated hitter spot Wednesday. He will most likely serve as the DH again in the finale of this series.
The Yankees may be one game out of a postseason spot, but Baltimore and Cleveland are just 1 1/2 games behind. Kansas City is right there, too, at two games off the pace.
New York will open a three-game series in Boston this weekend.
Phil Hughes, who hasn't won since July 2, will return to the rotation for the Yankees after his brief demotion to the bullpen. Hughes is 0-6 with a 6.22 earned run average in his last 11 games (10 starts) and just 4-13 with a 5.11 ERA in 27 overall games, 26 of which have been starts. Hughes was replaced by David Huff in the rotation, but gets another shot Thursday.
Hughes has faced the Orioles 19 times (16 starts) in his career, going 6-5 with a 5.30 ERA. In two starts against the O's this season, he is 0-1.
Baltimore will close out an eight-game homestand (4-3) Thursday and has lost two straight and three of four games since winning five of its previous seven.
Scott Feldman drew the start for the Orioles on Wednesday and allowed three runs in 7 2/3 innings before Tommy Hunter gave up the go-ahead runs in his inning of work to sustain the loss.
"He was really good again, especially when you take into consideration they've seen all he has to offer (in a start last month)," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Feldman. "That bodes well for some things he can do for us the rest of the way."
Danny Valencia finished 4-for-4, Chris Davis drove in a pair of runs and Roberts had three hits for Baltimore.
The Orioles will start a 10-game road trip with three games in Toronto this weekend and hope Wei-Yin Chen can keep them in the postseason hunt when he takes the ball in the series finale with New York. Chen has recorded two straight no-decisions and threw six innings of two-run ball in a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
Chen is just 1-4 in his last five decisions and 7-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 19 starts this season. The left-hander has struggled in six career starts against the Yankees and is 1-3 with a 5.29 ERA.
The Orioles and Yankees have split 18 matchups this season.