Didi Gregorius Hits His 22nd Homer to Lead the Yankees Past the Orioles



The Yankees’ Aaron Judge, left, celebrated with Didi Gregorius after scoring on Gregorius’s fifth-inning homer against the Orioles on Friday.

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While Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez have commanded most of the attention for the Yankees this season, shortstop Didi Gregorius has mostly shined in the background.

But Gregorius took one of his occasional star turns on Friday night, hitting a home run, driving in four runs and playing flawlessly in the field as the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles, 8-2. The victory was the Yankees’ sixth in their last seven games.

Starter Luis Severino cruised through eight innings to improve his record to 13-6. He allowed only three hits and a walk while striking out seven. Severino lowered his earned run average to 2.93.

Gregorius gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the first inning, and then put them ahead for good in the fifth, breaking a 2-2 tie when he clubbed a backdoor slider from reliever Miguel Castro into the right-field seats for two more runs. It was the 22nd home run of 2017 for Gregorius, who had never hit more than 20 in a season before.

He also drove in a run in the seventh with another sacrifice fly.

Though Gregorius insists that he is not a power hitter, the Yankees have counted on him in the cleanup spot because of injuries to Matt Holliday and Greg Bird. He is third on the team in home runs, behind Judge and Sanchez, and third in runs batted in with 77.

Gregorius also contributed in the field on Friday: He started a 6-4-3 double play that preceded a two-run homer by Wellington Castillo in the second, and two innings later ranged deep in the hole before making a strong throw to get Trey Mancini out.

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