Yankees down Orioles, win fourth in a row
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.