Orioles, Yanks gear up for rubber match (May 31, 2017)

BY AP • May 31, 2017

BALTIMORE -- The New York Yankees are playing as well as any team in the majors, and they can take a key three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday at Camden Yards.

After dropping the opener 3-2, New York rebounded with a dominant 8-3 win Tuesday night.

While Yankees manager Joe Girardi is pleased with his team's performance this season, he knows there still room for improvement.

"I just think at times we've been a little inconsistent with that we've done," Girardi said. "Teams go through that. Other times, we've pitched really, really well and have not scored runs. Other times, we scored runs and not pitched really, really well. Through the course of the season, you're going to go through that, or you're going to end up with 120 wins and that has not happened.

"I still like the way we're playing. We have a chance every game."

The Yankees are displaying power this season, led by rookie right fielder Aaron Judge, who has 17 home runs and a team-high 37 RBIs. On Tuesday, Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday each hit a pair of solo homers, which took the pressure off starter Luis Severino.

Girardi appreciates that type of production from his hitters, especially against Baltimore, which has a high-powered offense of its own.

"It's never an easy game when we play them," Girardi said. "They're a very good team and they're very explosive. You never really feel it's safe."

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter has also been impressed with the Yankees this season. The Orioles' pitchers will need to do a much better job containing New York's lineup to avoid losing a home series for just the second time this season.

"They're a really good club," Showalter said. "They're going to be really hard to beat."

The Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka (5-4, 5.86 ERA) appears to be getting back on track. The right-hander allowed just one run and had a career-high 13 strikeouts in his last outing against the Oakland A's, but he still endured his third consecutive loss. In his previous two starts, Tanaka allowed a total of 14 runs on 16 hits over just 4 2/3 innings, which put added pressure on the bullpen.

Tanaka is 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in six career starts against Baltimore. He got a no-decision at Camden Yards on April 8, when he pitched five innings of three-run ball.

The Orioles will counter with right-hander Kevin Gausman, who has also pitched better after some early struggles. He has thrown consecutive quality starts and has shown better command recently.

In his last outing, Friday against the Houston Astros, Gausman (2-4, 6.17 ERA) allowed two runs on a pair of solo homers over 6 2/3 innings. The Orioles, however, could not muster any offense in a 2-0 loss.

Gausman has enjoyed some success against the Yankees over his career, going 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 19 appearances (13 starts).

"I know my stuff's really good when I'm getting a lot of foul balls," Gausman said. "That's one thing that throughout my whole career, when I'm on, guys are fouling it off. Unfortunately, it kind of gets me into deep counts."



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