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|4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, April 28, 2017
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York Attendance: 36,912
Orioles, Yankees on a roll to begin weekend series
NEW YORK -- As April nears the end, the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees are the best teams in the American League East.
It didn't look that way three weeks ago when the teams met in Baltimore.
Since then, both teams are rolling as they open a three-game series Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
Baltimore began the season with four straight wins, has yet to lose a series and takes a 14-6 record into Friday. It is the Orioles' best 20-game start since 1997, when they won 98 games.
In the first series against New York, April 7-9, Baltimore won two one-run games and the Yankees rallied for a 7-3 victory. Each game was decided in the seventh inning or later.
Since the last meeting, the Orioles are 10-5 while the Yankees are 12-3.
The Orioles are winning despite a .236 team batting average and a .297 on-base percentage. While Johnathan Schoop is batting .294, Adam Jones is hitting .278 and Chris Davis is at .264, Manny Machado's average is .205 and Mark Trumbo is batting .190.
Baltimore picked up its latest win with contributions from all those players except for Trumbo, who is hitless in his last 23 at-bats.
Despite their key players contributing, the Orioles still needed a bases-loaded walk in the 11th inning from Seth Smith to get a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
"Very seldom are you going to be functional on all cylinders, but those are the types of games you like to win," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
The Orioles also are winning while ace Chris Tillman (sore right shoulder) and closer Zach Britton (left forearm strain) rehab. Both players are close to returning.
One Oriole not clicking on all cylinders is Kevin Gausman, who takes a 1-2 record and a 7.50 ERA into his sixth start on Friday. Gausman was 8-6 with a 3.10 ERA in his last 15 starts of 2016 but is struggling to duplicate his success so far.
"Not very good," Gausman said of his slow start. "Pretty frustrating, especially being the guy who they gave the ball to Opening Day."
Gausman's lone win was April 13 in Toronto. In his last two starts, against the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, the right-hander allowed 13 runs and 16 hits in eight innings, serving up four home runs.
On Sunday, Gausman allowed five runs and eight hits, including a career-worst three home runs.
"I like the fact he didn't implode and got us to the sixth inning and competed like we know Kevin can," Showalter said. "There will be better days for him."
Gausman enjoyed two of his better days at Yankee Stadium last season and was 3-1 with a 1.10 ERA in six starts against the Yankees in 2016.
On Aug. 28, Gausman allowed seven hits and struck nine in seven innings of a 5-0 win. On Oct. 2, he helped the Orioles clinch the second American League wild-card spot by allowing two runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 5-2 win.
Gausman is 6-3 with a 2.24 ERA in 18 appearances (12 starts) against the Yankees. He is 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA in nine appearances (six starts) in New York.
The Yankees are winning despite the DL stints of Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez. Gregorius is expected to return from a strained shoulder Friday, and Sanchez, who sustained a biceps strain on a swing in Baltimore on April 8, will start a rehab assignment Tuesday.
"We are playing good baseball and are confident right now," Yankees third baseman Chase Headley said.
Without its starting shortstop and catcher, New York has three regulars hitting at least .300 (Starlin Castro .346, Headley .329, Jacoby Ellsbury .301), and Aaron Judge has seven of the team's 27 home runs.
"It just creates a great environment for our clubhouse," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said before New York's 3-0 win in Boston on Thursday. "It looks like we have a great group of individuals that all get along with each other, work hard and create an atmosphere of pulling together and competing against a common opponent. It's a good feel."
New York's starting pitchers recovered after a sub-par first turn through the rotation, and left-hander CC Sabathia will look to keep it going Friday.
After Masahiro Tanaka's three-hitter Thursday, the Yankees have a 2.90 ERA. In the past 15 games, the pitching staff has a 2.37 ERA and a .197 opponents' average.
Sabathia (2-1) comes off his worst start of the season when, he allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings in a 6-3 loss at Pittsburgh on April 21. Sabathia has been pitching so well that it only increased his ERA to 2.70.
"I felt pretty good," Sabathia said. "My stuff was a little short. I just tried to battle and keep the game as close as possible."
Sabathia did not get the decision in New York's win in Baltimore on April 9, when he allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in six innings to give the Yankees a chance at coming back from a 3-0 deficit. The Yankees wound up with a 7-3 win. He is 19-10 with a 3.30 ERA in 39 career starts against the Orioles.
Updated April 28, 2017