NEW YORK (AP) — In the thick of the AL playoff races, the Baltimore Orioles lost a key player at an inopportune time.
Star center fielder Adam Jones left Friday’s game at Yankee Stadium in the second inning with a left hamstring strain. Although the seriousness of the injury was downplayed by his manager and the five-time All-Star himself, it’s unclear if this could be a lingering problem that could haunt his club down the stretch.
“See where we are tomorrow,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s not a DL thing. I think we’re still in pretty good shape.”
Rookie Gary Sanchez homered for the eighth time in nine games and drove in four runs as the New York Yankees beat the Orioles 14-4 in the opener of their weekend series.
Jones was in the starting lineup despite leaving Thursday’s game in Washington with hamstring cramps. He hustled down the line but was thrown out on a soft grounder to third in his only at-bat on Friday night.
“I felt fine. It’s just the first true test comes when you hit an infield ground ball and first instinct is to try and beat it out,” Jones said. “Probably not the smartest thing to do.”
Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley also went deep for the surging Yankees, who moved five games over .500 for the first time this season. New York is now 3 1/2 games behind the Orioles for the second AL wild card.
Sanchez, who had three hits, had a two-out single in the bottom of the first. Teixeira followed with a towering shot into the right-field bleachers off Yovani Gallardo to give New York a 2-1 lead.
The Yankees broke the game open against Gallardo (4-6) with a six-run second. The right-hander was charged with eight runs over 1 1/3 innings, the shortest start of his 10-year career.
Luis Cessa (4-0) gave up three runs and five hits over six innings in his second big-league start.
Manny Machado homered twice for the Orioles, giving him 31 for the season. Along with Mark Trumbo (38) and Chris Davis (30), it marks the first time in franchise history the Orioles have three players with 30 homers before September.
Headley singled and Aaron Judge walked to start the second inning. Ronald Torreyes lifted a fly ball to left-center field but a charging Nolan Reimold could not glove the ball cleanly, loading the bases. The veteran Reimold, who had played 12 career games in center prior to Friday, had just replaced Jones in the field to start the inning.
“It just sucks that I feel like I let my team down, putting Nolan in a peculiar situation,” Jones said. “Just try and get this correct and make that big push because at this point in time in the season, missing more than a few games would hurt this team.”
Brett Gardner followed with a single to left that drove in Headley and a sliding Judge to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right, scoring Torreyes for New York’s fifth run.
Sanchez, hitting .541 with eight homers and 14 RBIs over his last 10 games, chased Gallardo with a two-run double to right that made it 7-1.
“He continues to just swing the bat extremely well and he seems to center every baseball he hits,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s patient. He gets his pitch and he’s not missing it right now.”
Teixiera capped the scoring in the big inning with an RBI single off reliever Vance Worley for his third RBI of the game.
Headley’s two-run homer in the fourth pushed the Yankees lead to 10-1, and Sanchez clubbed a two-run shot in the next inning for his 10th homer in 20 games this season.
Machado, who gave the Orioles the lead in the first, hit his second of the game into the right-field seats in the sixth to make it 12-3 with his ninth career multi-homer game.
Torreyes and Gardner both had RBI hits in the seventh.
Yankees right-hander Ben Heller pitched a scoreless eighth in his major league debut.
Baltimore has lost each of their last 11 series openers at Yankee Stadium, dating back to the start of the 2013.
Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (right shoulder bursitis) is scheduled to throw on flat ground Tuesday.
Yankees: C Brian McCann was not with the team due to the death of his grandmother.
Orioles: Rookie RHP Dylan Bundy (7-4, 3.33 ERA) attempts to win for the fifth time this month.
Yankees: RHP Chad Green (2-3, 3.66 ERA) has struck out 16 batters in 12 innings over his last two starts, allowing just one run over that span.
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