The New York Yankees will try to bounce back from a disappointing weekend and extend their lead atop the American League East standings on Monday when they begin a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees come into tonight's opener sporting a 7 1/2-game edge on both the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, despite losing two of three over the weekend to the Boston Red Sox and having dropped seven of 10 overall.
New York won its opener with the Red Sox on Friday, but lost the final two games, including a 3-2 setback in 10 linings on Sunday. The Yankees rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game, but Pedro Ciriaco's RBI singe in the top of the 10th carried Boston to the series win.
Russell Martin supplied the offense for the Yankees with a solo home run in the seventh and an RBI single off Alfredo Aceves in the eighth, while David Robertson (1-4) surrendered the deciding run to take the loss.
Tonight, New York turns to righty Freddy Garcia, who has lost his last two starts. Garcia was defeated by Seattle on Tuesday, as he surrendered three runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings, dropping him to 4-4 on the year to go along with a 5.16 ERA. He also racked up a season-high eight strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
"I feel really good today. I got everything going right now," Garcia said. "I started to always make my pitch, and they gave me a favor -- they start swinging the bats real aggressive. For me, when that happens, it's good, because I can locate all my pitches and get the job done more easy."
Garcia has faced the Orioles 19 times (17 starts) and is 6-7 with a 4.33 ERA.
The Yankees, though, have won all five of his starts versus the Orioles since the start of the 2011 campaign.
Baltimore, meanwhile, hasn't been able to take advantage of the Yanks' recent struggles, but does enter tonight's opener on a high note after salvaging the finale of its three-game set with the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
Wei-Yin Chen struck out 12 to help the Orioles avoid the sweep, while Matt Wieters hit a three-run home run and Omar Quintanilla went 3-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs scored in the 6-1 win.
Chen (9-6) set a record for most strikeouts in one game by a Taiwanese-born pitcher and gave up just one unearned run on three hits with four walks over 5 2/3 innings for the Orioles, who won for only the second time in seven tries.
"It's always good when you get everyone playing together like we did today," said Quintanilla. "Chen was solid out there and hopefully this will be the start of a good run."
Getting the call for the Orioles tonight will be righty Miguel Gonzalez, who is 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA. Gonzales was awful against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, as he allowed seven runs and seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings.
"I couldn't get my command," Gonzalez said after that outing. "Obviously, whatever happened didn't work out for me. I just want to forget about tonight's game."
Gonzalez has never faced the Yankees.
New York has won five of its eight meetings with the Orioles this season, but Baltimore did take two of three in the Bronx earlier in the year.