NEW YORK — Michael Pineda knew right after he threw his first slider he was going to have a great day. It took a few more innings before he realized how special this start was going to be.
“In the fourth inning, I finally go, ‘Oh, this is going to be good,’” said Pineda, who smiled and giggled his way through the postgame interview.
Pineda struck out a career-high 16 in seven dominant innings May 10 and Carlos Beltran hit his first homer of the season, leading the New York Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Throwing nice and easy with pink sleeves peeking out from under his pinstriped jersey on Mother’s Day, Pineda overpowered an Orioles team that went bust in its week in the Big Apple. Baltimore lost three of four in the Bronx after being swept in two games by the Mets in Queens.
Pineda (5-0) matched David Cone and David Wells for the second-most strikeouts in a game by a Yankees pitcher. Ron Guidry had 18 in 1978.
“That’s as good as we’ve seen,” said Manager Joe Girardi, who caught both Wells’ and Cone’s efforts in 1997. “He recorded 21 outs and 16 of ’em strikeouts.”
The 16 strikeouts were the most by the Orioles against one pitcher in a nine-inning game, according to STATS. Baltimore struck out against 18 times overall, a club record for a nine-inning game.
J.J. Hardy, who homered, was the only Baltimore player who did not fan against Pineda.
“It’s really tough to pick up his delivery. When guys like that are on, it’s really tough on hitters, Hardy said. “Very deceptive.”
Pineda struck out six in a row, a string that started with Alejandro De Aza to end the fourth and was halted by Delmon Young’s two-out double in the sixth. Pineda gave up six hits and did not walk a batter. His previous career high for Ks was 10, done twice.
Pineda overcame several major shoulder injuries since arriving in a trade with Seattle in January 2012 and has become the most consistent pitcher in the rotation this year.
The big right-hander repeatedly frustrated the Orioles — Manny Machado slammed his pink bat to the ground twice and threw his helmet when he fanned to end the fifth.
“They were perfect pitches,” Yankees catcher Brian McCann said. “It’s not fun facing it.”
The Orioles’ No. 7-9 batters went 0 for 9 with eight strikeouts against Pineda.
Pineda struck out Ryan Flaherty with his career-best 111th pitch on a sun-splashed afternoon, and calmly walked off the field to a thunderous ovation.
Didi Gregorius had an RBI single and Jacoby Ellsbury had a two-run double that chased Bud Norris (1-4) in a four-run fourth, and McCann homered for the Yankees.
Norris was sent back to the hotel during the May 9 game because he was not feeling well, and Buck Showalter said he managed his bullpen knowing he might need a spot starter May 10.
But Norris came to work ready to play even though he had caught the stomach virus that’s been going through the clubhouse.
He gritted out three scoreless innings, needing 58 pitches, before the heat and some fundamental mistakes by the outfield ended his day.
“I tried,” Norris said. “I wanted to go five innings but it just didn’t work out that way.”
Beltran tied it at 1 on a full-count pitch for his first homer in his 100th at-bat this season.
(HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Baseball Writer)