NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have spent more than a month depending on others to beat the Baltimore Orioles.
On Monday, they had their first opportunity to collide head-on with the team which has held at least a share of first place in the American League East since June 5.
In that sense, the series opener was a success as the Yankees will look to get another win over the Orioles on Tuesday night when the four-game series continues at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees opened the series with a 2-1 win and are 2-2 on a crucial 10-game homestand despite scoring 10 runs in 34 innings. Alex Rodriguez homered for the first time in a month, Carlos Beltran had three hits and Ivan Nova pitched six effective innings.
"We really haven't scored a lot of runs on this home stand yet but we're 2-2," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Hopefully we start swinging better we were swinging really good before the break, and it's important that we get a number of our guys going at once."
New York faced the prospect of being 10 1/2 games behind the Orioles following Saturday's 5-2 loss to Boston. It gained a game Sunday with a 3-1 win, and instead of being 11 1/2 out, the Yankees enter Tuesday with a 7 1/2 game deficit and the non-waiver trade deadline less than two weeks away.
"Every game is so important right now," Rodriguez said. "We definitely want to keep all the guys around, keep this team together. We feel like the best baseball is ahead of us."
Since a 9-6 loss to Texas on June 27, New York's deficit has been between 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 games.
To inch closer to the Orioles, the Yankees will turn to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has lowered his ERA to 5.11 by pitching a trio of scoreless relief outings totaling 7 2/3 innings.
"There's no doubt he was helpful down there," Girardi said. "That's a piece we've struggled to find since June, but it wasn't necessarily hard because we think he's a starter and we're going to put him back in the rotation."
He was moved to the bullpen to give the Yankees depth in that department and also because of recent ineffectiveness. Eovaldi is 0-4 with a 9.20 ERA in his last six starts. During that stretch, he has allowed 45 of his 104 hits.
Eovaldi's ineffective stretch began the last time he faced the Orioles. On June 3, he did not get a decision but during New York's 6-5 loss Eovaldi allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings and it ended a span of five starts where the right-hander held a 2.03 ERA.
The Orioles were without Chris Davis on Monday and their offense was held to one run for the first time since getting blanked against Seattle on May 17. Davis was under the weather with a stomach virus and was so sick he did not leave the team hotel.
Baltimore's only offense Monday was Jonathan Schoop's 16th home run. The Orioles have a .269 team average but are hitting .206 (27-for-131) in their last four games.
"We're giving our efforts, just coming up a little short right now." center fielder Adam Jones said.
After Kevin Gausman allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, Vance Worley will get the opportunity to start Tuesday for Baltimore.
Worley is 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in 20 appearances and in his two starts, he has a 5.06 ERA.
Worley's two starts took place April 10 and 15 against Tampa Bay and Texas. Since those starts he has a 2.15 ERA in his last 18 outings.
The right-hander has made three multi-inning appearances since returning from a groin injury over two weeks ago. He threw 16 pitches during Sunday's 5-2 loss in preparation for the start.
"We think of all our options, he was the best one and we'll see," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "He's certainly capable of pitching well."
Besides Davis, Baltimore might be without Matt Wieters. Wieters stayed in Monday's game after getting hit on the right foot in the first inning, but the soreness increased and he had X-rays after the game.
New York will likely be without Mark Teixeira. Teixeira sat out a second straight game with a sore left foot and it is unclear if he will appear in any game this series.