NEW YORK — Kevin Gausman has been nearly flawless against the New York Yankees this season.
On Sunday, the Baltimore Orioles entrust Gausman to deliver again as they attempt to secure an American League wild-card spot in the regular-season finale at Yankee Stadium.
Baltimore's (88-73) quest for the wild card lasts into the final day because it blew a 3-0 lead in Saturday's 7-3 loss. Manager Buck Showalter hoped to get Wade Miley into the seventh but the decision backfired when the Yankees tied it and scored four times in the eighth off Brad Brach.
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Now they turn to Gausman, who was officially announced as the starter hours before Saturday's game. The Orioles (88-73) are tied with the Toronto Blue Jays, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. Baltimore also clinches with a Detroit loss Sunday in Atlanta or Monday — if necessary — at home against Cleveland.
The Orioles have good reason to place their trust in Gausman.
Gausman is 2-1 with a 0.80 ERA in five starts this season against the Yankees, who have scored five runs and struck out 32 times in 33 2/3 innings. None of those runs have been the last two times he faced New York, including a 5-0 victory Aug. 28 when he allowed seven hits and recorded nine strikeouts.
Gausman's last appearance in New York saw him snap a 25-game road winless streak. When the right-hander ended his 0-16 stretch on the road, the Orioles were 71-59 and three games out of first place.
The Orioles unofficially lost any chances to get first place when the Boston Red Sox completed a four-game sweep at Camden Yards from Sept. 19-22. They have won six of eight games since, earning a chance at their third playoff spot in the last five seasons.
“If you had told me at the beginning of the season this is a situation that I was going to be in and had the chance to secure a spot for us, I'd say I'd take that chance and take that responsibility,” Gausman said to Baltimore reporters Saturday afternoon. “So it's pretty exciting, it's going to fun.”
For the Orioles, it would be just as fun if the offense produced more like Friday's series opener than Saturday's game. The Orioles scored eight times and hit three home runs Friday but didn't score after the third inning Saturday and had three hits in the final six innings.
“Tomorrow is what we've been playing the whole season for anyway,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “It shouldn't be hard to get ready for a game tomorrow.”
“It's a real tribute to our guys to have an opportunity like we have tomorrow,” Showalter said. “That's how we look at it. They've done a lot of things to give us that opportunity and I'm real proud and honored to be with them today andtomorrow.”
Besides trying to spoil things for the Orioles, the Yankees will be playing to win in retiring first baseman Mark Teixeira's final game of his 14-year career.
Teixeira has started each of the last two games before getting taken out in the middle innings for a pinch runner.
“Just excited for him,” Yankees third baseman Chase Headley said.” He's had an unbelievable career and it's been a privilege to play with him for the past couple of years. He's been a tremendous player for a really long time but he's a better person. It will be fun to celebrate his career with him tomorrow and I wish him well.”
Teixeira will be honored with a pregame ceremony and is expected to be in the lineup.
Coincidentally, Teixeira plays his final game with Showalter, his first manager in the other dugout.
“He believed in me as a rookie, stuck with me as a rookie and I had four great years in Texas,” Teixeira said. “So it'll be cool to see him across the field, understanding that he was there from the very beginning.”
Luis Cessa (4-3, 4.18 ERA) makes his ninth career start Sunday for the Yankees. Since entering the rotation Aug. 20, Cessa is 2-3 with a 3.72 ERA.
In his eight starts, he allowed three earned runs or fewer five times and allowed six hits or less in each start. Cessa started against Baltimore in a 14-4 victory Aug. 26, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings.