NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez hit his 696th home run, Ivan Nova hurled six solid innings and Aroldis Chapman wowed the crowd with a 105.1-mph fastball, leading the Yankees to a 2-1 victory over the Orioles on Monday at Yankee Stadium.Rodriguez's second-inning blast off Kevin Gausman soared into the left-field
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez hit his 696th home run, Ivan Nova hurled six solid innings and Aroldis Chapman wowed the crowd with a 105.1-mph fastball, leading the Yankees to a 2-1 victory over the Orioles on Monday at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez's second-inning blast off Kevin Gausman soared into the left-field bleachers and marked his first home run since June 18, exactly one month prior. It was Rodriguez's ninth home run of the season, and the slugger said that he has been working on hitting the ball in the air more often.
"I haven't hit one in so long," Rodriguez said. "Every game is so important right now, we definitely want to keep all the guys around and keep this team together. We feel like the best baseball is ahead of us, so we have to continue to play well."
Brian McCann added a third-inning sacrifice fly and the bullpen trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman made it hold up, as New York sent Gausman to a tough-luck defeat despite his quality effort.
"I got off to kind of a slow start," Gausman said. "I wish I could take back one pitch, that's really it. Even McCann's, he kind of got it just deep enough to get that run in. But I thought I kind of locked in and got better as the game went on."
Nova appeared to be on the ropes early, throwing 42 pitches in the first two frames, but settled down after Jonathan Schoop's home run to lead off the third inning. Nova completed six innings for the first time in five starts as the Yankees defeated Baltimore for the third time in seven meetings this year.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No. 696: Rodriguez was on the field for early batting practice on Monday, working with the Yankees' coaches on a drill to help him keep his hands inside the ball better. He has struggled against right-handed pitching this year, but owns good career numbers against Gausman, now improving to 6-for-13 with three homers. According to Statcast™, A-Rod's blast left the bat at 108 mph, his second-hardest-hit homer of the year. More >
"He's a big part of our team," McCann said. "He hits in the middle of the order and when he steps in the box, the pitcher, he works. He makes a pitcher work regardless of what he's hitting. That was one of the best swings I've seen him take in a while."
Disappearing act: The Orioles made solid contact several times against Nova, including Schoop's homer, but for the most part were ineffective offensively. They mustered just five hits, with Schoop's 16th long ball of the season counting as their only extra-base hit.
"Just got to get some offense right now," said center fielder Adam Jones, who went 1-for-4. "The first four games to start the second half we just haven't clicked offensively yet."
Trio gets it done: New York improved to 18-1 in games when Betances, Miller and Chapman all appear, as the relief trio made the slimmest of margins hold up. Betances worked around a one-out walk to Ryan Flaherty in the seventh, Miller induced a double play to end the eighth and Chapman worked a scoreless ninth -- including the five fastest pitches ever recorded by Statcast™ -- to secure his 19th save in 20 chances. More >
"I felt fine," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I felt normal; just a little more loose, I guess. But not unlike any other day."
Caught in a pickle: With the Yankees playing in a shift in the fourth inning, Flaherty chopped a grounder to an opening down the third-base line. Chase Headley, after backhanding the ball in foul territory, noticed Nolan Reimold had overran second and promptly fired to second baseman Starlin Castro, who chased down Reimold for the second out of the frame. Flaherty advanced to second on the play, but the Orioles couldn't make a dent in the one-run deficit.
"That's amazing. We're all very lucky to be witnessing the guy that throws the fastest pitch in the world. That's pretty cool." -- A-Rod, on Chapman's 105.1 mph fastball
Orioles: Right-hander Vance Worley (2-0, 2.87 ERA) gets the call Tuesday after spending the majority of the season in the bullpen. After making two starts to begin the campaign, Worley has had success in relief. The game will mark his first time pitching at Yankee Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Yankees: Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (7-6, 5.11 ERA) will return to the rotation on Tuesday after making three appearances out of the bullpen, where he compiled 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Eovaldi is winless in six straight starts since the beginning of June, going 0-4 with a 9.20 ERA in those efforts.
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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York and covered the Orioles on Monday.