Orioles seek to solidify wild-card position
NEW YORK -- The Baltimore Orioles eliminated two of their pursuers Thursday night in Toronto.
Now the Orioles head to Yankee Stadium to open a three-game series against the New York Yankees looking to further solidify their wild card spot on Friday night.
The Orioles (87-72) begin the series tied with Toronto and holding a 1 1/2-game lead over the Detroit Tigers (85-73) for the second wild card. The Seattle Mariners are one-half game behind Detroit.
By virtue of their 4-0 win over the Blue Jays on Thursday, New York and Houston were eliminated from playoff contention a year after those teams met in the wild card game.
Baltimore has won five of its last six games after getting swept in a four-game series by Boston last week. The latest win featured Ubaldo Jimenez allowing one hit in 6 2/3 outstanding innings along with run-scoring hits by Matt Wieters and Mark Trumbo.
"All of the guys, they know what we are playing for and everyone is doing their parts, especially the last two games," Jimenez said.
"Over 162, momentum is going to come and go," Wieters said. "But once you start getting closer to the playoffs, momentum is big."
The Yankees essentially fell out of contention with a disastrous 3-8 road trip that saw them get swept in a four-game series at Fenway Park two weekends ago. They have won four straight starting with Monday's 7-5 win in Toronto and were mathematically alive until there was one out in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday.
"It's not what we wanted," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's pretty quiet in there. Probably the quietest I've ever seen after a win. I think guys realize it came to an end tonight. It's difficult. There were some good things that happened, but again we fell short and we didn't have a successful season."
CC Sabathia allowed one run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings in his last start of the season Thursday.
"You obviously want to have a chance to play," Sabathia said of being eliminated. "We had our chances but fell short."
While Sabathia is returning next season, first baseman Mark Teixeira is retiring and Friday could be one of his last games.
Teixeira has split time with Tyler Austin, but Girardi said the 36-year-old would play Friday. After that, Girardi will check with Teixeira about the next two games.
Yovani Gallardo (5-8) starts for the Orioles on Friday. He is 2-7 with a 5.50 ERA in his last 13 starts. Gallardo is coming off one of his better outings as he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings of last Friday's 12-inning victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Gallardo last faced the Yankees on Aug. 26 in New York and was ripped for eight runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings of a 14-4 loss. He is 1-3 with a 7.62 ERA in five career starts against New York.
Michael Pineda (6-11) will start for the Yankees and makes his 100th career start. Pineda has made a career-high 31 starts this season and is 6-11 with a 4.68 ERA in those starts.
Pineda has yet to get a decision in five starts this month but has a 1.68 ERA while compiling 34 of his team-leading 202 strikeouts in those games. Pineda last pitched Sunday in Toronto, when he allowed a run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts against Baltimore this season. In his career, he is 4-2 with a 3.73 ERA in 11 starts against the Orioles.
The teams have split the 16 meeting, with the home team winning 11 times. Baltimore won three series at Camden Yards while the Yankees have taken five of eight meetings in New York.