All it took was the most embarassing loss in franchise history to wake up the New York Yankees.
The Yankees will try for their third straight victory as they open a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles.
With the their lead in the American League East cut by second-place Boston to 3 1/2 games from 10 1/2 on Aug. 16, the Yankees have faced a torrent of questions this week, especially following Tuesday night franchise-record 22-0 loss to the Indians. New York rebounded with a 5-3 victory Wednesday, then quickly broke out with a 9-1 win on Thursday.
“A game like that can wake you up,” Sheffield said of Tuesday’s drubbing. “We looked like we were just trying to get the schedule over with. We got a wake-up call. Now we’ve got a pennant race going.”
Sheffield became only the second player to reach 100 RBIs with five teams, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first since Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers from 1887-94.
But even with the two wins, the Yankees failed to increase their margin over the Red Sox, who beat Anaheim 4-3 to sweep a three-game series. Boston has won 21 of its last 25 games.
“The other night was a dark time,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “Hopefully, it increases our determination to show ourselves what kind of a team we are.”
Baltimore won’t make the playoffs this year, but the Orioles have been playing well lately, sweeping Tampa Bay in convincing fashion. The Orioles outscored the Devil Rays 31-8 in the series, including Thursday’s 13-2 rout.
Miguel Tejada increased his AL-leading total to 121 RBIs for the Orioles, who have won four straight following a 12-game losing streak. Jay Gibbons, Rafael Palmeiro, Melvin Mora, Geronimo Gil and B.J. Surhoff all drove in two runs apiece.
“Our offense has come together,” Mora said.