After his eighth-inning homer tied the game Wednesday night in the Orioles' eventual 5-2 win, Jonathan Schoop struggled to explain the magic that seems to be in his bat when he faces the New York Yankees.
While Adam Jones’ three-run blast -- the 12th of his 23th homers this season that has given the Orioles the lead -- was the difference in the game, Schoop’s homer was monumental in the comeback.
And in nine games against the Yankees this season, Schoop is hitting .380 (11-for-29) with two doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs against New York. He's hitting just .201 (61-for-303) against all teams other than the Yankees.
Schoop homered in both games this series. He hit a three-run blast in the bottom of the eighth inning off Chase Whitley that opened up the game in an 11-3 win over New York on Monday.
But his homer off right-hander Dellin Betances in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s victory turned the game.
“It was big because Betances is tough, and I get the home run off him, and we get him out of the game and some other arm is in the game,” Schoop said. “It changed the game a little bit because Betances is really tough.”
Betances entered the game in the sixth inning for starter Michael Pineda (who left after 67 pitches in his first start since April 23), and he was dominating. Betances retired seven of the first eight batters he faced, including four strikeouts before Schoop stepped to the plate.
Schoop then took an 0-1 breaking ball from Betances just over the left-field wall to tie the game. After the game, Schoop said he was talking to injured third baseman Manny Machado about hitting a homer off Betances in that at-bat.
“It was definitely an exciting one for me because me and Manny were just talking about it,” Schoop said. “Finally, I told Manny, I might go deep on this guy, and I did it. It was exciting and a big part of the game. … I just believed in myself there. I wanted to do something special today. I might take this guy deep I was telling Manny, and I achieved it.”
It wasn’t the first time Schoop hit an important homer against the Yankees this year. Back in April, he broke a scoreless tie with a three-run homer off right-hander Masahiro Tanaka at Yankee Stadium on an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.
He hit another go-ahead homer off Tanaka on June 22 in New York, a solo blast that again broke a scoreless tie.
"I don’t know exactly why, but I think I put more emphasis, more focus, on [those at-bats]. I need to learn how to do that every at-bat, no matter whether you’re winning, 10-0, or not. I don’t know what I do, but I think I put more focus. But that’s part of baseball, you need to learn to do it when you’re down, 10-0, or you’re up, 10-0. If you’re having a bad game, don’t waste it."
Schoop has hit 11 homers this season, and four have been against the Yankees. Three of those have either tied the game or given the Orioles the lead.
"I'm OK with that,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I don't know if it's the team. I think Jon had an idea there about a breaking ball and didn't miss it. The good thing about getting a steady dose of [breaking balls] through the course of your season is sometimes you look for it, and if it's a strike, you've got a chance.
"Jon's been in a good place the last two or three games. I think it wouldn't have mattered who he was playing. You've got Manny out and J.J. [Hardy] out and [Matt] Wieters out and guys kind of know that there's a little slack to be picked up there and they take it personal."
Other notes out of Wednesday’s game:
* The Orioles have outscored the Yankees, 60-31, in 11 games this season. They have outscored New York, 22-12, in five games at Camden Yards.
* The Orioles are 52-28 at night, the best record in the majors in those games.
* With just six hits on the night, the Orioles’ stretch of four straight games with 10 or more hits was snapped.
* In 38 games since June 30, the Orioles pitching staff has a 2.95 ERA.
* Nelson Cruz had his fourth straight game with an extra-base hit with his fifth-inning double. It’s his second-longest streak of the season behind a career-high-tying six-game streak from May 23-28.
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