BALTIMORE -- A sharp eighth inning vaulted flame-thrower Albertin Chapman back into the circle of trust, but it may be Dellin Betances' hanging curveball to Manny Machado that pushes Yankees manager Joe Girardi to reset the pecking order of his bullpen.
Betances served up a walk-off, two-run homer to the sizzling Orioles slugger, dealing the Yankees a crushing 7-6 defeat on early Wednesday morning at Camden Yards. Just one out from securing their fourth straight victory, New York instead slipped 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East chase.
"The long ball hurt us tonight," Girardi said after Carsten Sabathia allowed three homers before Machado's shot off Betances. "Manny's been swinging the bat great. Dellin's been throwing the ball great. He just hung a breaking ball."
Machado didn't miss it, crushing a 431-foot blast to center field for his second homer of the game and third walk-off in the last 19 days. It was the Yankees' 23rd blown save of the season, which ranks third in the Majors.
Betances relied heavily on his breaking ball; the curve to Machado was the 14th that the right-hander threw in his 20-pitch appearance.
"It's a pitch I rely on," Betances said. "Obviously right there, it stayed over the plate and didn't do much. He got the best of me, but before that it was good. Maybe I threw too many there. That one just hung. Maybe if I make a better pitch, it's a fly ball and maybe it's an out."
Betances got the first two outs of the inning, and both Betances and Girardi believed that home-plate umpire James Hoye squeezed Betances on a 3-1 pitch to Timothy Beckham that preceded Machado's homer.
"I thought it was a strike, but it is what it is," Betances said. "I've got to be able to go out there and turn the page and get the next guy. Unfortunately, tonight I wasn't able to do it."
Chapman handled the eighth inning and was dominant for the second consecutive outing, inducing a pair of groundouts before blowing a 101.1-mph fastball past Chris Davis for a called third strike.
"Really good. He threw the ball excellent," Girardi said. "That's a good sign for us, because we're going to need him. I told you, I believe in this guy and he's going to help us."
Having been removed from his closer's job after a string of four poor outings in mid-August, Chapman said that he is regaining his confidence. He huddled with pitching coach Larry Rothschild to reduce the amount of cut on his fastball, and he has held opponents to a run and three hits over his last five appearances (4 2/3 innings), striking out six against one walk.
Though he received the largest contract ever issued to a free-agent reliever this past offseason -- a five-year, $86 million pact -- Chapman has said all of the right things when asked if he wants his job back.
"I've been a closer for a long time in my career, but that's not the focus here," Chapman said through an interpreter. "For me, I just need to be ready to pitch wherever they need me. The other guys that are closing games right now are very good pitchers, Dellin and [David] Robertson. As of right now, what matters is winning. Wherever they need me to pitch, I'll be ready."