BALTIMORE – Two fans sitting behind the plate Saturday night were wearing Steve Balboni and Butch Wynegar t-shirts, an homage to the last dark, postseason-less period of Yankees baseball.
Had Balboni and Wynegar actually been there themselves, the Yankees might have put them in the lineup.
The Orioles hammered David Phelps early and often, scoring four runs in the first inning and five more in the third, part of an 11-3 bludgeoning that extended the Yankees’ losing streak to four games.
Chris Davis bashed a pair of home runs and had five RBI, giving him a league-high 30 long balls for the season. Ryan Flaherty homered and drove in three runs, while Chris Dickerson had a pair of RBI in the lopsided victory.
Phelps had his worst outing of the season, giving up nine runs – all earned – on nine hits and two walks in 2.1 innings.
The Yankees’ offense continued to struggle, managing only two runs – one earned – in 5.2 innings against lefthander Zach Britton, who entered the night with a 5.51 ERA.
Chris Davis goes deep off Phelps in the first inning for the first of his two home runs on the night.
The Bombers have lost five of their last six, 12 of their last 17 and 20 of their last 32. They have scored three runs or fewer 19 times in that 32-game stretch.
The win locked up a series win for the Orioles, who will go for the sweep Sunday night on national television. The Yankees have now gone six straight series without winning one, splitting two and dropping four.
One night after CC Sabathia blew a three-run lead in the sixth, Phelps never gave the Yankees a chance to give him a cushion to work with.
Phelps gave up three straight one-out singles to open his night, then Davis continued his MVP-type season with a three-run blast to left-center, his 29th of the year.
Phelps recorded a 1-2-3 second inning, giving the Yankees the hope that he would settle in and provide some distance. It didn’t happen.
Baltimore battered him again in the third, using a single and two walks to load the bases with one out. Former Yankee Chris Dickerson stung his old teammates with a two-run single, pushing the lead to 6-0.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Yankees shortstop Jayson Nix fails to come up with Manny Machado ground ball.
Two pitches later, the Orioles led by nine runs and Camden Yards was really rocking.
Ryan Flaherty’s two-run homer off Phelps made it 9-0, bringing Girardi out of the dugout to bring a merciful end to Phelps’ disastrous night.
Even though he was knocked out of his May 29 start against the Mets after allowing four runs while recording only one out in the first inning, Phelps hadn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any start this season. Saturday’s beating boosted his ERA nearly a full run from 4.01 to 4.95.
Given that the Yankees haven’t overcome a deficit of more than three runs this season, the nine-run hole seemed like a tall order for the struggling offense.
Britton blanked the Bombers through five innings, but the Yankees finally got on the board with a pair of runs in the sixth. After loading the bases with one out, Zoilo Almonte’s sac fly scored the first run, then an error by Davis at first base allowed the second to come home.
Travis Hafner pinch-hit for Austin Romine with the bases loaded and two out, but Jair Jurrjens – who came in for Britton to face Hafner – got him on a deep fly to left, ending the threat.
Ivan Nova, who took over for Phelps with one out in the third, held the Orioles in check until the sixth, when Davis crushed his second homer of the night, a two-run shot that gave Baltimore an 11-2 lead. Davis has 30 home runs and 79 RBI.
Nova wound up pitching the final 5.2 innings for the Yankees, allowing two runs on six hits, striking out two without issuing a walk.