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Preview: Orioles (65-72) at Yankees (77-59)
Venue: Yankee Stadium
Date: September 08, 2015 7:05 PM EDT
The New York Yankees’ offense has been good enough to allow them to overcome less-than-dominant pitching and move back to the verge of the AL East lead.
Whether that formula will be enough to bring them the division title remains to be seen, but it’s certainly been working very well against a run of lesser opponents over the past two weeks.
Looking to regain the top spot, the Yankees go for a sixth straight win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.
New York (77-59) moved within a half-game of Toronto by virtue of its 8-6 victory over the Orioles on Monday and the Blue Jays’ 11-4 loss in Boston. The Yankees haven’t been in first since being tied with Toronto on Aug. 24 and have not held the top spot alone since Aug. 22.
‘It’s nice to see them lose games,’ manager Joe Girardi said of the Blue Jays, winners of 28 of 36.
New York has gone 8-2 in its last 10 – which have come against Atlanta, Boston, Tampa Bay and Baltimore – by scoring 78 runs. That’s enabled it to overcome a pitching staff that hasn’t been bad but has failed to provide the lineup with many easy days.
Michael Pineda struggled through six innings of four-run ball and the bullpen allowed two runs Monday, but Greg Bird hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning and Alex Rodriguez and John Ryan Murphy also went deep for the Yankees, who trailed 4-1 after two.
Continuing to spell the injured Mark Teixeira, Bird has batted .353 with three home runs and seven RBIs in the past five games.
‘For me, it’s just about simplicity,’ Bird said. ‘I’m just trying to hit the ball hard. The rest is out of my hands.’
The Yankees are 42-11 when they hit at least two home runs.
Masahiro Tanaka (11-6, 3.73 ERA) has personified the bend-don’t-break results of the staff recently, going 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in his past three starts. He threw 6 1-3 innings and gave up four runs at Boston on Wednesday, but benefited from another offensive outburst to win 13-8.
The Yankees have scored 28 runs in Tanaka’s last two starts – both victories.
The right-hander’s 17 home runs allowed in 13 starts since June 21 are tied for second-most in the majors. He beat Baltimore 9-3 at home July 23, pitching 7 2-3 innings and allowing three solo homers, and is 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles – all at Yankee Stadium.
Chris Davis is 3 for 9 with a home run and a double against Tanaka, but has also struck out four times.
Baltimore’s slide continued Monday as the Orioles (65-72) dropped into a last-place tie with the Red Sox in the division with their third straight loss and 15th in 18 games.
‘We are not taking advantage of the counts when we do get them in our favor,’ manager Buck Showalter said. ‘We just can’t correct it.’
Kevin Gausman (2-6, 4.59) lasted a career-low 2 1-3 innings and gave up four runs and eight hits in Wednesday’s 7-6, 11-inning home victory over Tampa Bay.
The right-hander, 0-4 with a 5.45 ERA and eight home runs allowed in his past six starts, is 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in four career starts against New York. He pitched six innings and allowed four runs in a 4-3 home loss to the Yankees on July 22.