Yankees in need of wins vs. O’s to keep pace in race

BALTIMORE — The New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles are heading in different directions as they prepare to begin a four-game weekend series Friday night at Camden Yards.

CC Sabathia (7-4, 3.32 ERA) goes for the Yankees in the opener and Alex Cobb (4-15, 5.09) will start for the Orioles. New York (79-47) is eight games clear in the American League wild-card race while trailing first-place Boston by 9 1/2 in the AL East.

New York had won four straight before dropping a 9-3 decision Wednesday in Miami. Yankees manager Aaron Boone told the media after the game that his team needed to bounce back quickly.

“We’ve got to get after it, starting Friday,” Boone said. “These are important and we’ve got to play better than we did (in the loss).”

Sabathia could help. He has often pitched well against the Orioles throughout this career with a 19-11 career record against Baltimore with a 3.70 ERA.

In addition, the left-hander will be coming off the disabled list after going on recently because of inflammation in a knee. They are going to need some solid efforts from him down the stretch to maintain their perch atop the wild-card standings.

But the Yankees are one of the only teams in baseball that the Orioles have been able to play with consistently. The teams have split their first 12 games this year, and Tampa Bay (8-8) is the only group Baltimore has more wins against.

The Orioles (37-90) are playing out the string while taking the first steps on a rebuilding process that began with trading away a number of big-time players last month.

Cobb has been one of the highlights of the second half for Baltimore as, despite his record, he has pitched much better.

He is 2-3 in the second half of the season and is coming off a strong complete game performance in last Saturday’s 4-2 win in Cleveland. Cobb has found the feel for more of his pitches since the All-Star break and has been the most effective starter that Baltimore has had during the past month.

Plus, the right-hander always has pitched well against New York. He has a 7-4 career record against the Yankees with a 2.90 ERA.

The Orioles haven’t always given Cobb — or their other starters — enough offensive help, but they’re not thrilled with all the losing either.

“We’re together, but this isn’t fun. Losing isn’t fun,” Baltimore’s Trey Mancini told The Baltimore Sun this week. “You can’t really put your finger on it. It’s just that some things don’t go your way, and we didn’t play to our potential at all here this year. It’s kind of a tough stat to wrap your head around and not something to be proud of.”

The Orioles also could be on the verge of losing power-hitting Mark Trumbo (knee). He’s on the disabled list and various reports have said the designated hitter/outfielder might need to have surgery on the knee that has been bothering him for a while now.