A battle of AL East contenders will commence Friday at Camden Yards between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, as the clubs square off in the opener of a three-game series.
The Orioles are 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the division lead and the Yankees sit 4 1/2 games off the pace. Baltimore and New York have split six matchups so far this season.
Baltimore earned a split of its four-game series versus the Cleveland Indians and is coming off Thursday's 7-3 win thanks to a five-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth inning. The decisive inning made a winner out of starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings, struck out nine and did not issue a walk.
"I felt I was falling behind a little bit early, but then I settled down and worked with all the pitches I needed to, changing pitches, changing speeds to good hitters up and down," Gonzalez said.
Brian Matusz, Troy Patton and Darren O`Day combined to throw three scoreless innings of relief to help Baltimore to its second win in seven tries.
Ryan Flaherty had two hits and two RBI, Matt Wieters recorded two hits, two runs scored and drove in a run and Chris Davis ended 1-for-3 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored for the Orioles.
Baltimore looks to take the opener of this series versus the Yankees with rookie T.J. McFarland set to make the first start of his career. A Rule 5 Draft pick from Cleveland this winter, McFarland is 1-0 with a 4.14 earned run average in 18 relief appearances and worked 4 1/3 innings at Toronto on Sunday in a 13-5 loss. He allowed five runs and five hits in the no-decision.
The left-handed McFarland tossed two scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium back on April 14 in a 3-0 loss.
"Mac is throwing the ball well and deserves an opportunity while we have an opportunity to take a look at it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Thursday. "We had a couple options, he was one of them and that's where we are going to go tomorrow."
Showalter also touched on second baseman Brian Roberts, who's been on the disabled list with a balky knee and could return as soon as this weekend. Roberts hasn't played since April 4 and has appeared in just three games this season. The veteran has been getting back into the flow with Triple-A Norfolk.
"We have a chance to see Brian sometime over the weekend," Showalter said. "He's progressing well."
New York just completed a nine-game homestand with a 4-5 record and dropped the last two installments of a three-game series versus the Texas Rangers.
The Yankees will now begin a seven-game road trip Friday against Baltimore and Minnesota, and suffered a 2-0 defeat on Thursday. Jurickson Profar homered and Ian Kinsler provided the other RBI for Texas, which received a two-hit shutout and seven strikeouts from Derek Holland.
Austin Romine and Ichiro Suzuki provided the hits for the Yankees. New York couldn't capitalize off a strong showing from starter Phil Hughes, as he gave up the two runs through eight innings of work.
"We're struggling right now. We talked about that a little bit," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Girardi is one win shy of 600 in his managerial career and has 521 with New York. His club has lost three of four games and hopes a change of scenery will alter some results. The Yankees, of course, are toiling without major contributors in Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis.
David Phelps gets the nod for New York Friday and has won four of his last six decisions, including last Friday's 6-2 win over Tampa Bay. He allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings to push his record to 5-4 in 16 games (10 starts) to go along with a 4.01 earned run average.
Phelps, a right-hander, has faced Baltimore six times in his career -- two starts -- and is 1-0 with a 4.08 ERA.