BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles long ago stopped living in the past, which goes a long way toward explaining why they’re still in the midst of a pennant race after 14 straight losing seasons.
So, after absorbing a lopsided 13-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday, the Orioles immediately dismissed the outcome and began looking ahead to a welcome day off and their next important challenge.
Despite the defeat, Baltimore split the four-game series and won four of seven from New York in the span of 10 days. That served as a prelude to a three-game series with AL East rival Tampa Bay, which trails the Yankees by two games and the Orioles by one.
“We don’t care about the last four of seven. We care about the next three,” Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones said. “Those are the most important three games of the season right now.”
The Yankees pelted out-of-control Baltimore starter Zach Britton for five runs in just under four innings and got a huge performance off the bench from Curtis Granderson in regaining sole possession of first place in the division.
New York finished 9-9 against Baltimore this season. Had the Orioles won Sunday, they would have received home-field advantage in a playoff game if the teams finish tied atop the division. Baltimore would have also had home-field advantage if the Yankees and Orioles finish tied for both wild-card berths.
Now, if the teams are tied at the end of the regular season, record within the division will be the tiebreaker.
“We’ll try to make it not matter,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You go in that clubhouse right now, poll our guys and ask them what our record is against the Yankees, they won’t know. They want to know what our record is compared to the Yankees when the season is over.”
The best news of the day, perhaps, was that Nick Markakis may not be sidelined as long as anticipated with a broken left thumb, the result of being hit by a pitch from CC Sabathia on Saturday. The right fielder was expected to be sidelined for six weeks, but a surgical procedure Tuesday could hasten the recovery time.
“They said the surgery should actually knock off three weeks of recovery so hopefully we are looking at somewhere around four weeks,” Markakis said.
Showalter said: “September is not an option, so we’ve got to hopefully play good baseball and make October an option.”
Granderson came off the bench to hit his 35th homer and drive in five runs. Derek Jeter also homered for the Yankees, who built a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning and piled on five more in the eighth.
“You lose 3-1 you lose 13-3. What’s the difference?” Jones said. “We lost, so it doesn’t matter. I’d rather lose 13-3 than 3-1.”
Granderson didn’t start because he was stuck in a 5-for-43 skid. He entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and hit a solo shot to put New York up 6-3, then delivered a two-run single in the seventh to provide the Yankees a five-run cushion.
In the eighth, after Jeter hit a two-run drive off Kevin Gregg, Granderson doubled in two runs.
Pitching in relief of ineffective starter Freddy Garcia, Joba Chamberlain (1-0) entered in the fourth and worked 1 2-3 hitless innings to earn his first win since May 2, 2011. The right-hander was activated off the disabled list on Aug. 1 following elbow ligament replacement surgery in June 2011.
Wilson Betemit had two RBIs for the Orioles, who were seeking to win the season series from New York for the first time since 1997.
Nate McLouth batted leadoff for Baltimore, going 0 for 2 with two walks and a stolen base in place of Markakis.
Britton (5-2) allowed five runs, five hits and five walks in 3 1-3 innings. The left-hander was 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA in his previous four starts.
“I felt like when I commanded the ball in the zone, I got the outs that I wanted,” Britton said. “So I kind of just beat myself around today with the walks.”
The Yankees got a first-inning run when Jeter beat out a chopper to third and scored on a two-out RBI single by Robinson Cano.
New York benefited from four walks in a four-run fourth. After a single and two walks loaded the bases, Britton walked Steve Pearce to force in a run. Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki hit RBI singles before Jeter ended Britton’s outing with a bases-loaded walk. Jake Arrieta then struck out Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez.
Baltimore answered with three runs in the bottom half. Garcia walked McLouth and hit J.J. Hardy with a pitch before Betemit doubled in two runs and Matt Wieters chased Garcia with an RBI single.
NOTES: Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira re-injured his left calf Saturday night on the final play of the game. An MRI on Monday will go a long way toward determining how long he will be sidelined. … The Orioles will recall OF Endy Chavez on Tuesday, Showalter said. … Suzuki has a 19-game hitting streak at Camden Yards. … Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to 13 games, his longest run since an 18-gamer in April 2007. … Swisher went 0 for 4 and is hitless in his last 28 at-bats, part of a 2-for-43 funk. … Both teams have Monday off.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)