07/28/08 11:46 PM ET
O's back Guthrie, overpower Yankees
Jones's slam one of four homers in Baltimore's 17-hit attack
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The Orioles scored the first 11 runs of the game and circled back to score late. Baltimore scored four runs in the second inning -- courtesy of home runs by Kevin Millar and Ramon Hernandez -- two in the fifth and five more in the sixth. Center fielder Adam Jones finished the night with three hits, including his first career grand slam and a personal best five RBIs.
"We're going through it with aggression," said Jones, who fell a double short of the cycle. "We hit balls hard. We hit some right at them, but it was one of the few days this year that a lot of the balls we hit hard didn't find anybody."
Baltimore had several other offensive highlights on the night, most notably setting the team-high for hits (17) in a nine-inning game. The Orioles also hit four home runs for the fourth time this season and the second time in their past 10 games. Baltimore's run total was the most it had scored since on the road since beating Seattle, 14-4, in May 2006.
Six of the road team's runs were charged to former Baltimore ace Mike Mussina, who had allowed just three earned runs in his previous 26 innings. Mussina (13-7) served up a three-run shot to Millar and a solo homer to Hernandez in the second, and he also let Jones triple in one run and score on a sacrifice fly in the fifth to give the road team a six-run lead.
Strangely enough, the rout represented the second time this season Mussina has been hit hard by the Orioles. The veteran lasted just two outs against Baltimore back in May, matching the shortest start of his distinguished career. The Orioles (50-55) went on to beat the Yankees, 12-2, that day, setting the season standard for largest margin of victory.
"Maybe both times he's been off. And both times it's been against us," said Trembley. "The guy's pitched for 17 years and he started off 2-0 after the All-Star break with two not quality starts, but exceptional starts. And tonight, he didn't have one that he's used to. I think it's just coincidence that a couple of times we've hit him."
"You see some of his highlights," added Aubrey Huff, who hit his 21st homer in the eighth. "And when he's going good, he's getting that outside corner right on the spot and he's spotting inside and outside. He put some right over the plate today, but he's a nice pitcher and we're just trying to lay off some of the tough ones and get some pitches to hit."
Meanwhile, Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie held the game in complete control. The right-hander started the game with three perfect innings and didn't allow a baserunner to reach scoring position until the sixth. New York (59-46) loaded the bases with two outs in that inning, but Guthrie (7-8) reared back and struck out Jason Giambi on a 98-mph fastball.
|"We're going through it with aggression. We hit balls hard. We hit some right at them, but it was one of the few days this year that a lot of the balls we hit hard didn't find anybody."|
|-- Adam Jones|
The Yankees didn't score until the seventh, courtesy of a solo home run by Xavier Nady. Baltimore (50-55) felt its belt grow tighter in the seventh, when Johnny Damon crushed a three-run shot off reliever Lance Cormier. That was the extent of the home team's comeback, though, and the Orioles took their first series-opening win in a two-week span.
Guthrie used his start to tweak with his delivery, utilizing a delayed step that he taught himself over the All-Star break. The former first-round pick said he took the step from Arizona's Dan Haren, who has had success with it.
"That's just the way he pitches," he said of stealing a page from Haren's playbook. "But I thought it would be a nice little wrinkle in my delivery, so I worked on it over the All-Star break. I felt comfortable doing it, so I've continued to try to do it with all my pitches. ... I'm just hoping it adds a little wrinkle and makes me a little more deceptive when I pitch."
The night, though, belonged to Jones, who was acquired in the offseason trade for Erik Bedard and immediately anointed Baltimore's starting center fielder. The 22-year-old struggled through April and May, but batted .323 in June and has been red-hot thus far in July, accounting for three of his seven homers in the last 23 games.
Jones came up in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and a chance to make baseball history, but he flew out to center field to end his bid for the cycle. And in the aftermath, he said it was hard not to know the circumstances at hand.
"A dude on deck was telling me, 'Hey, you've got to hit a double,'" he said. "It was in the back of my mind when I took the first pitch. I was like, 'All right, he's going to throw a fastball.' I tried to hit something, and he just stopped."
"I was on the bench," said Huff of his younger peer, "And I told [pitching coach Rick Kranitz], I was looking up at the stats and I told him, 'Man, this guy is really starting to put together a nice little year for a young guy.' I said, 'When I was 22 years old, I was in Double-A drinking beer.' Here he is in the big leagues putting up some pretty good numbers."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.