NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltrán squinted down the third-base line and saw nothing but daylight. His reaction was to square up for a perfect bunt single, sending a message rippling through the Yankees' dugout: With their season already on the line, they must take advantage of every opportunity.Beltran's smart sixth-inning
NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltrán squinted down the third-base line and saw nothing but daylight. His reaction was to square up for a perfect bunt single, sending a message rippling through the Yankees' dugout: With their season already on the line, they must take advantage of every opportunity.
Beltran's smart sixth-inning play helped create a run in the Yankees' 5-0 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday, which vaulted New York to match its season high-water mark of two games over .500. It's a neighborhood they haven't visited since April 12, after the season's sixth game.
"It's a contribution from every aspect; pitching, offense and defense," Beltran said. "In order for us to make a run, we have to be consistent. We've been pretty consistent this series against Baltimore. We're happy where we're at. We're just looking forward to continuing to play good games."
Beltran later hit an eighth-inning homer, his team-leading 20th, and Mark Teixeira also went deep behind six gritty innings from Michael Pineda as the Yankees won their fourth straight, continuing the pushback against those who believe the club would be better served to sell in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"We know we can play with the best," Teixeira said. "These guys have been at the top of our division most of the year. We know if we play our 'A' game that we can beat good teams. We're going to have to if we want to stay in this thing. We have a lot of games against the East opponents, guys that are above us. We need to win these games."
Those in favor of seeing the Yankees buy in advance of the Deadline, or at the very least hold their stars, might find promise in that the club has 43 games remaining against the American League East.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the challenge -- essentially, win or face the consequences -- has not raised his level of intensity.
"I think I'm pretty urgent all the time," Girardi said. "I take each game like it's the biggest game of the year. I've been taught that. But you know with the situation looming that it's really important as we move forward. In a sense, it's playoff baseball for us, and we have to play extremely well."
This week's strong performance against Baltimore's depleted roster will not stop opponents from scouting Beltran, Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Nathan Eovaldi and Pineda, all of whom have been repeatedly mentioned in rumors. But it does cloud the waters as the Yanks' decision-makers attempt to make heads or tails of the erratic campaign.
"Honestly speaking, we're not keeping with how up we are or how down we are," Beltran said. "The mentality is, we need to go out there and win ballgames. Two over .500, three over .500 doesn't mean anything if you don't beat the teams that are in your division."
To do that, the Yankees will have to continue to do the little things right. Twice on Wednesday, they were able to cash runs with sacrifice flies and not let triples go to waste -- Beltran knocked home Brett Gardner in the first inning, and Gardner drove in Ronald Torreyes in the seventh.
Teixeira also worked a four-pitch walk to force in a sixth-inning run, as O's starter Yovani Gallardo came unhinged following Beltran's bunt, issuing back-to-back free passes.
"I think they're responding, especially after we lost two to start out this homestand," Girardi said. "They've responded well, and we need them to keep doing that."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.