CC Sabathia tries to put a season's worth of frustration behind him on Friday when the New York Yankees open an important stretch with the first of three games against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
New York enters this weekend having lost four of six and sits five games back in the wild card chase. The Yankees, who are 1 1/2 games back of the Orioles, face an even more difficult task in the AL East, where they are eight games behind Boston.
However, the Yankees play 14 of their next 17 against the Orioles and Red Sox.
Sabathia gets the ball on Friday for New York after taking a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. The big left-hander is 11-11 on the year with a career- worst 4.81 ERA.
"It's frustrating," Sabathia said. "One big inning. I just feel like I can't stop the bleeding."
Over his last seven starts Sabathia is just 2-3, but has pitched to an astounding 7.30 ERA.
Sabathia has had success against the Orioles over the course of his career, going 17-5 against them with a 3.19 ERA in 28 starts. He's 1-1 this season against them with a 3.80 ERA.
Baltimore will counter with righty Miguel Gonzalez, who is 8-6 with a 3.77 ERA. Gonzalez has pitched out of the bullpen recently and hasn't won in five starts. He is 2-1 in five starts versus the Yankees with a 2.48 ERA.
The Orioles avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox on Thursday, as Chris Davis' RBI double in the fifth inning proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win.
Manny Machado knocked in two runs for the Orioles, who moved within 6 1/2 games of the Red Sox for first place in the AL East.
Baltimore starter Chris Tillman (15-4) allowed two runs on six hits while striking out eight over seven innings. The right-hander improved to 8-1 on the road this season. He's the first 15-game winner for the Orioles since Erik Bedard in 2006.
"My curve was there, it was there when I needed it. It got away from me in a couple of at-bats, but it was there when I needed it which was important," said Tillman.
Baltimore has won seven of its 12 matchups with the Yankees.