MLB

O's take on Yanks with eyes on home field

NEW YORK -- Since losing four straight home games to the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles have recovered nicely.

The recovery has gone so well that not only are the Orioles solidifying their standing as wild card team, they might get a chance to host the play-in game next week.

More performances like Friday's 8-1 victory at rainy Yankee Stadium would help and by the end of Saturday, the Orioles could know if they are hosting the wild card game.

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Step one is to beat the Yankee on Saturday afternoon and step two is for the Toronto Blue Jays to lose to the Boston Red Sox Saturday night at Fenway Park.

The Orioles are in the favorable position because they have won six of their last seven games since Sept. 22. They swept Arizona at home last weekend, took two of three in Toronto and opened the series in New York by getting home runs from Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo.

Those home runs moved the Orioles (88-72) a game ahead of the Blue Jays. Toronto only leads the Tigers by one half-game for the second wild card spot and Baltimore should clinch Saturday, it might not even find out its opponent until Monday.

"Not much at all until I had no choice because it was right behind the pitcher's head every time I looked out there," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said in his best attempt to deny watching scoreboards. "I caught a couple of glimpses, but I don't watch it that much. I really don't. I watch our scoreboard a lot."

Since the finale of their series with the Red Sox, the Orioles have hit 12 of their major league-leading 250 home runs and scored 27 runs.

Perhaps more importantly is Baltimore's pitchers, which has been regarded as a significant weakness, has turned in a 1.38 ERA in those games.

On Friday Yovani Gallardo followed 6 2/3 strong innings by Ubaldo Jimenez in Toronto when allowed one run and two hits in six innings On Saturday it will be Wade Miley's turn to keep it rolling.

Miley missed the series in Toronto to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's first child. He returned Friday and the Orioles will look to see if he can follow up his best start of the season.

A week ago, Miley struck out 11 hitters in 8 2/3 innings against Arizona at Camden Yards.

"Command of the fastball and setting up the off-speed pitches (was big)," Miley said. "(Catcher Matt Wieters) did a great job. I might've shook one time all night long. We just kind of had a plan, and he put down the right fingers."

Miley is 0-3 with a 5.77 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees. He had a chance for a win at New York April 10, 2015 when he held a 3-0 lead but Boston's bullpen blew the lead before winning a 19-inning decision.

New York will be playing its second game after being eliminated from playoff contention Thursday night. While the Yankees have won four of five, they also have dropped 12 of 19 since a seven-game winning streak Sept. 4-10.

"It's no fun being in this position," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "It isn't. You don't work to be in this position. You work to be in the other."

The Yankees also will be hoping rookie Gary Sanchez can conclude the season with a .300 average. Sanchez is batting .298 and has one hit in his last 26 at-bats, marking the first time his average is under .300 since Aug. 9.

Masahiro Tanaka likely would have started had the Yankees remained in contention. Tanaka missed his last start with a forearm strain but once the Yankees were eliminated they decided not to pitch him.

"He's healthy," Girardi said. "He threw a really good bullpen the other day. It just doesn't make sense for us."

Instead, Luis Severino will start and try to get his first win a starting pitcher this season. Severino is 3-8 with a 5.75 ERA but as a starting pitcher he is 0-8 with an 8.59 ERA in 10 starts.