Two AL East rivals gunning for a postseason spot clash Monday night, as the New York Yankees open a 10-game road trip with the first of four straight games against the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore and Cleveland are two games off the final wild card berth in the American League and the Yankees sit 2 1/2 games off the pace.
The Yankees salvaged the finale of a four-game series versus the Boston Red Sox with Sunday's exciting 4-3 win and went 6-4 on the homestand. Ichiro Suzuki scored the winning run on a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth and got closer Mariano Rivera off the hook for allowing the tying run in the top of the inning.
Rivera served up a leadoff home run to Will Middlebrooks, but was all smiles after Ichiro came home on Brandon Workman's wild pitch with two out.
"We've had some pretty tough games in the last few days and you want to finish your homestand right before we go on this important road trip," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Robinson Cano was 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Yankees, who will also visit Boston and Toronto on the upcoming trip. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is battling soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle and is expected to miss a few games. A precautionary CT scan after Saturday's loss to the Red Sox was negative. Jeter will be re-evaluated before returning to action.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have won four of CC Sabathia's last five starts and will send the burly left-hander to the mound Monday. Sabathia is 4-1 with a pedestrian 5.58 earned run average in that time and defeated the Chicago White Sox his last time out, tossing 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball in Wednesday's 6-5 win.
Sabathia, who has won at least 15 games in each of the previous four seasons with the Yankees, is 13-11 with a 4.86 ERA in 29 starts this season. He is 4-6 in 14 road starts this season and 2-1 with a 4.67 ERA in four starts against the Orioles.
In 29 career meetings with Baltimore, Sabathia is 18-5 with a 3.33 ERA. In 17 career road starts against the Orioles, the southpaw owns a 10-4 record.
Baltimore failed in its bid for a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox, dropping Sunday's finale by a 4-2 score.
Bud Norris was saddled with the loss and allowed all four runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Adam Jones homered and Ryan Flaherty knocked in the other run for Baltimore, which entered the game having won five of seven games.
"We created opportunities today," said Jones. "We just couldn't get anything going when we had those opportunities to score."
Chris Tillman will resume his career year for the Orioles Monday and is 15-5 with a 3.71 earned run average in 28 starts. Tillman, though, owns a 1-2 mark with a 3.62 ERA in his last five trips to the hill with Baltimore going just 1-4 over that stretch.
Tillman suffered the loss in Tuesday's 4-3 decision at Cleveland and was reached for all four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He was coming back-to-back solid outings in which he lasted at least seven innings. The right-hander, who is 7-3 in 15 home starts, has faced the Yankees twice this season, going 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA.
In nine career starts against New York, Tillman has a 3-4 ledger to go along with a 7.43 ERA through 40 innings.
The Orioles are 8-7 against the Yankees this season.