BALTIMORE -- The words "Happy Flight" were scribbled in large block letters on a dry-erase board in the visitors' clubhouse at Camden Yards on Wednesday afternoon, informing each passing member of the Yankees that the mission was to leave town with a victory in hand.Sonny Gray's strong outing and a
BALTIMORE -- The words "Happy Flight" were scribbled in large block letters on a dry-erase board in the visitors' clubhouse at Camden Yards on Wednesday afternoon, informing each passing member of the Yankees that the mission was to leave town with a victory in hand.
Sonny Gray's strong outing and a trio of big swings ensured that there would be smiles in the sky. Supported by Greg Bird's first career grand slam, Tyler Wade's first career home run and an Austin Romine blast, the righty rebounded from back-to-back clunkers to silence the Orioles over six scoreless frames, leading the Yankees to a 9-0 victory.
"I felt good coming into it. I feel even better coming out of it," said Gray, who scattered three hits while striking out eight. "It's one start to build on. Hopefully I can continue down this path."
The Bombers secured a split of the four-game series in the Inner Harbor by hammering Dylan Bundy for a five-run third inning. Giancarlo Stanton knocked home a run with a single before Bird clanged the ninth pitch of his at-bat off the right-field foul pole, tying his career high for a second consecutive game with four RBIs.
"It's little things; finding the little positives in each day," Bird said. "I feel like gradually it's coming. It's just been little. I can feel it on a swing here or there. It's just been better and more consistent. You've got to be consistent, and you've got to hit mistakes."
Wade connected for a solo blast off Mike Wright Jr. in the sixth and Romine went deep in the seventh off Jhan Marinez. Wade revealed that during lunch, a waiter at the team's hotel had promised him he'd hit a homer if he ordered the raspberry sorbet. Wade said the dessert tasted like candy, but his drive to the right-field seats was even sweeter.
"I'm going to have to order a case of those now," Wade said with a laugh. "It definitely boosts my confidence. It's nice to see results."
The jovial mood was made possible by Gray, who improved to 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts against the Orioles this season. Gray struck out eight while walking one, and explained that he made mechanical changes to help pound the bottom of the strike zone with more sink and less lateral run.
"Sometimes when things start escalating and swirling around and you're going through some things, I think it's important to get back to your strengths," Gray said. "My two-seam and my curveball have always been something that I've been able to rely on throughout my career."
Bird's homer was the Yankees' 152nd of the season, eclipsing the 1999 Mariners' record for the most long balls hit prior to the All-Star break. Wade (153) and Romine (154) extended the Bombers' lead. More >
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The Yankees gave Wade an extended "silent treatment" when he returned to the bench, leaving the rookie infielder to exchange high-fives with imaginary players before he was enveloped by his gleeful teammates. Wade suspected that Aaron Judge was behind the gag.
"It's all part of it," Wade said. "I was trying to have a little good time back. I've got to get them back for that. I was just kind of going with the flow, trying to be funny."
Two of the top three finishers in last year's American League Cy Young Award voting will face off on Thursday 7:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field, with right-handers Luis Severino (14-2, 2.12 ERA) and Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.49 ERA) matching up for the series opener between the Yankees and Indians. Severino will look to build upon his Major League-leading win total while he seeks his 500th career strikeout; he needs five to reach that plateau. The Yankees are 17-2 when Severino pitches.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.