NEW YORK — Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb had gone so long without a win — eight weeks plus one day to be exact — that his focus shifted from trying to earn a victory each start to making sure he didn’t get tagged with a loss. After a defeat in Toronto on July 21, Cobb spoke of his frustrating win-loss record, saying while he realized it’s not a tell-all of how he’s pitched, it’s the first thing people look at on the back of your baseball card.
So there was a show of relief on Cobb’s face after he earned his first win since June 5 in the Orioles’ 7-5 victory over the New York Yankees on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, ending a nine-start winless stretch.
“At a certain point of that stretch, I’m just hoping not to get a loss,” Cobb said. “I’m not even hoping for wins at that point. I’m just hoping not to lose. To walk off the mound first off knowing I can’t lose that game and then having a pretty good chance to get a win, it’s going to take a lot of clawing and fighting for wins right now.
“We get the point of where we are as an organization. It’s going to be some bumps and bruises along the way and we’re going to have to fight for everything we get. But if you understand that and you embrace it, kind of go with the journey that we’re on, then it makes it a little easier. But wins haven’t been easy to come by and they aren’t going to be that easy, so it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get those.”
Cobb held the Yankees to just one run over six innings, the only run he allowed coming on rookie Gleyber Torres’ solo homer in the second inning.
Cobb emerged from a 39-minute rain delay during the middle of the third inning stronger than he was before the stoppage, manager Buck Showalter said. Cobb allowed just two hits over his final four innings.
“Good, real good, especially with the rain delay,” Showalter said. “He threw a couple times [during the delay], just like throwing [a total of] nine innings. I thought he was actually good, if not better, after he came out. He had three pitches he had command of and they had to think about, and you saw that. Anytime you go through a batting order like that multiple times with how many left-handed hitters they have, you’ve got multiple pitches at your disposal.”
Despite entering the day with the worst record in baseball, the Orioles (33-75) have won four of six games at Yankee Stadium this season and have a .500 record (6-6) against the Yankees in 2018.
The new-look Orioles — who have unloaded several key players over the past two weeks leading up to Tuesday’s nonwaiver deadline — won for the fourth time in five games.
“It shows that we kind of turned the page a little bit since the All-Star break,” left fielder Trey Mancini said. “I just noticed a difference in energy and we all are starting to hit and play as a team a lot better. I don’t know what the reason is, but it’s been pretty fun.”
After a second inning when the Orioles scored five runs and batted around, they chased Yankees starter Sonny Gray (8-8) from the game in the third inning. Grey walked off the field to a chorus of boos from the home crowd when he was pulled with two outs in the third, failing to get out of the third inning for the third time in six starts.
In their previous meeting, Gray threw six scoreless innings and struck out eight with one walk on July 11 in a 9-0 Yankees win at Camden Yards.
The Yankees made it a game when Torres hit his second home run, a three-run shot off Mike Wright Jr. in the ninth. But the rally ended there.
After stranding the bases loaded in the second, Cobb kept the Yankees (68-38) in check over his last four innings. But he needed a 6-4-3 double play to escape the fourth inning after back-to-back fielding errors, by third baseman Renato Núñez and second baseman Breyvic Valera, put two on with one out.
Cobb struck out six on the afternoon, including three off his split changeup. Cobb induced seven swinging strikes from the pitch.
“He’s handled it so well,” Showalter said of Cobb. “But he’s a pro, and he’s pitched better than that. Little things. I’ve said it many times, he’s going to be a good pitcher for us looking back on it when it’s all said and done. He’s a pro. He’s got a lot of ways to get you out.”
Núñez had three hits in the win, including two doubles, the first of which drove in two runs in the second inning. Tim Beckham also had a two-run single and Mancini had an RBI single in the second.
Mancini had a three-hit day, including his 14th homer of the season, a solo shot off Gray in the third. Mancini is hitting .341 (15-for-44) over his past 11 games.
“Having four days off [for the break] is huge physically and mentally,” Mancini said. “You have an opportunity to reset your mind and just kind of rest up and maybe set some goals for the rest of the season. We still have a long way to go. You can turn things around if you just keep the right mindset.”