Yan­kees down Ori­oles, win fourth in a row

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - SPORTS - By Scott Org­era

NEW YORK » The New York Yan­kees were without a steady­ing pres­ence at first base for much of the sea­son, start­ing a mix of ag­ing veter­ans and mi­nor league call-ups at the po­si­tion.

All along, they held out hope that the oft-in­jured Greg Bird would re­turn and, more im­por­tantly, pro­duce. He’s done just that, and ap­pears to be hit­ting his stride at the right time.

Bird and Didi Gre­go­rius both home­red for the sec­ond straight game, rookie Jor­dan Mont­gomery pitched six shutout in­nings and the Yan­kees downed the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles 9-3 Satur­day for their fourth win in a row.

“I think the kid has the abil­ity to be ex­tremely pro­duc­tive,” man­ager Joe Gi­rardi said of Bird. “He’s went through an in­jury-

cou­ple of years, but when he’s been on the field and healthy he’s played re­ally well.”

The Yan­kees (82-66) ex­tended their stretch of win­ning sea­sons to 25, the sec­ond-long­est such streak in ma­jor league his­tory behind their own 39 straight from 1926-64.

The Yan­kees are three games behind AL Eastlead­ing Bos­ton. New York be­gan the day with a com­fort­able lead atop the wild­card race.

Gre­go­rius and Bird each hit three-run homers and Todd Fra­zier added a tworun shot as the Yan­kees won for the sev­enth time in eight games. They are a sea­son-high 16 games over .500.

The 24-year-old Bird, who hit 11 home runs in 46 games as a rookie in 2015, missed all of last sea­son while re­cov­er­ing from shoul­der surgery. Af­ter a promis­ing spring train­ing this year, he strug­gled out of the gate, hit­ting just .100 with one homer in 19 games be­fore be­ing shelved on May 2 with a bone bruise on his right an­kle.

Bird even­tu­ally had an­kle surgery on July 18 and re­turned to the lineup al­most six weeks later, hit­ting four home runs in 50 at-bats since.

“It’s never easy,” Bird said. “I think some­times that’s the per­spec­tive peo­ple get is you just have surgery and it fixes it. There’s a whole process in be­tween, so that is what’s hard is deal­ing with the ups and downs of in­juries, re­ally, but I feel like it makes you a bet­ter player and per­son.”

Bal­ti­more has lost nine of 10 as it con­tin­ues to fall out of play­off con­tention.

Mont­gomery (8-7) scat­tered four hits in his fifth start against the Ori­oles this year. The left-han­der struck out six and walked one.

Man­ager Buck Showal­ter, pitch­ing coach Roger McDow­ell and a trainer came out to check on starter Jeremy Hel­lick­son (8-10) af­ter a two-out walk to Chase Headley in the third. Af­ter a brief dis­cus­sion and no warmup throws, Hel­lick­son re­mained in the game and walked Aaron Judge on four pitches.

Gre­go­rius fol­lowed by driv­ing a 1-0 fast­ball into the right field seats, giv­ing the Yan­kees a 3-0 lead. His ca­reer-high 23 home runs tie Derek Jeter (2004) for the sec­ond-high­est to­tal as a short­stop in fran­chise his­tory.

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