Yanks swept by O's, still chasing home field for wild card
BALTIMORE (AP) The New York Yankees still may host the AL wild-card game.
Wherever they play it, they will have to execute better to reach the next round of the playoffs.
New York failed to clinch home field twice Saturday, getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles 9-2 and 4-3 in a day-night doubleheader.
With the Yankees needing one win to host Tuesday's one-game playoff against Houston, the Los Angeles Angels or Texas, reliever Dellin Betances allowed the go-ahead run in the second game on his second wild pitch of the eighth inning. The Orioles roughed up Ivan Nova in the opener.
''I was trying to go up with that fastball, and I just yanked it,'' said Betances, who allowed an earned run for the first time in 39 road appearances.
New York (87-74) has lost five of six and is one game ahead of Houston (86-75) for home field. If the Astros end up tied, Houston holds the tiebreaker and the game would be played at Minute Maid Park.
''I think you'd have to have your head in the sand not to know what you need to do,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ''We need to win.''
After Betances' 15th appearance since Sept. 1, Girardi said he may not use the setup man on Sunday, though the right-hander said he'd be ready.
''If they want me to go, why not?'' said Betances (6-4), who has thrown 84 innings in 74 appearances.
Paul Janish led off the eighth with a flared single, reached second on a wild pitch, took third on Gerardo Parra's bunt singleand scored on the second wild pitch.
T.J. McFarland (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings for Baltimore, and Zach Britton got his 36th save after picking off pinch-runner Rico Noel at first.
Manny Machado hit his 35th home run, connecting for a fourth consecutive game, and Nolan Reimold hit the first leadoff homer of his big league career.
''We're just trying to finish the season strong,'' Machado said of the Orioles, who moved to 80-81. ''That's the way we've played all season and we're not going to stop now.''
Despite splitting his regulars between two starting lineups on a cold and crisp day, Girardi insisted when Saturday began that home field remained important.
''Obviously you want to play in front of your home fans,'' said Girardi, whose team is 8-10 over its last two homestands. ''Our club is built for that ballpark. You get to sleep in your own bed. You don't have to travel as much. I think it means a lot.''
He added that also wanted to protect his team's health in the kind of weather that can lead to injuries.
New York then went 3 for 19 with runners in scoring position in the doubleheader.
In the first game, Nova (6-11) allowed eight hits in 5 2-3 innings, walked three and hit a batter. He had a 5.07 ERA in his first season since Tommy John surgery.
Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen (11-8) allowed two runs in six-plus innings in what may have been his final start as an Oriole. Chen, who is eligible for free agency, Chen struck out three while allowing four hits and three walks to finish his fourth major league season with a 3.34 ERA.
''I will be happy if I get given the chance to come back here,'' Chen said through a translator. ''But sometimes as a professional player, sometimes it's inevitable that you have to change team and adapt to a new environment.''
NOEL BREAKS THROUGH
Noel reached on an infield single in his first big league plate appearance, a month after he came within moments of reaching the plate at Fenway Park.
A September callup who has been used primarily as a pinch runner with New York, Noel was on deck Sept. 2 when Girardi sent up Jose Pirela to pinch hit for him. The Yankees led 12-5 in the eighth inning.
On Saturday, Noel batted for Pirela leading off the ninth and hit a 60-foot bouncer to third off Oliver Drake, reaching first without a throw.
''I've been waiting for it for a long time,'' the 26-year-old Noel said.
In the first game, reliever Chasen Shreve allowed two runs while getting just one out as he continues his late-season struggles. He's allowed nine runs in six innings (13.50 ERA) since Sept. 1, raising his overall ERA more than a run in that stretch to 3.09.
''I'm going to put him back out there tomorrow if the situation presents itself,'' said Girardi, who added he is not sure whether Shreve could make New York's wild-card roster.
Yankees: 3B Chase Headley (back stiffness) was in the lineup for Saturday's first game. ... OF Jacoby Ellsbury (back stiffness) played the second.
Orioles: 2B Jonathan Schoop will have a follow-up exam later Saturday on his bruised right hand. ''He's getting a fluoroscope - I don't know if that's the right word, but it's a sort of next-step X-ray,'' said manager Buck Showalter.
Yankees RHP Michael Pineda (12-9, 4.24) looks for his third win in four starts Sunday against Orioles RHP Chris Tillman (10-11, 5.05), who last finished a season with an ERA of five or higher in 2011.