Orioles host Yanks with chance to slice wild-card deficit

BALTIMORE -- The New York Yankees control their own destiny for the playoffs, and they can push the Baltimore Orioles further out of the race with another win Tuesday at Camden Yards.

The Yankees (74-63) beat the Orioles 7-4 in the series opener Monday, extending their lead for the first American League wild card to four games over Minnesota (71-66). Baltimore (70-68) sits 1 1/2 games behind the Twins.

New York is also just 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

A victory Tuesday would clinch the Yankees' first series win at Camden Yards since 2013.

"We've had some tough losses here," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, whose team has won four of its past five games. "They've been a good team for a substantial period of time, and they're very talented. It's not an easy place to play. We had some series we thought we could have won, we just couldn't close it out."

New York will be without catcher Gary Sanchez for the entire series. He began serving a three-game suspension Monday for his role in a brawl against the Detroit Tigers last month. The Yankees did catch somewhat of a break because Sanchez initially was suspended for four games. He is batting .276 with 28 home runs and 79 RBI this season.

"That's something that happened," Sanchez said prior to the Monday game. "You can't turn time around, you can't go back in time. It's in the past."

Girardi said Austin Romine would catch all three games against Baltimore if he is not suspended for his role in that same melee. Erik Kratz is available if needed.

"I think you're allowed to stagger suspensions," Girardi said. "I've seen it done in the past."

While the Orioles remain in the hunt for one of the two wild-card spots, they have not ruled out overtaking Boston. Despite the setback Monday and a seven-game division deficit, the AL East title remains the ultimate goal, manager Buck Showalter said.

"We're trying to catch the Red Sox," Showalter said. "September is an eternity, you know? The games inch by little by little. Each day there seems to be another story out of that last day. Can you imagine what college and pro football are like when you've got six or seven days to talk about what that one game meant to everything else? So, you try to stay focused on yourself."

The Yankees' CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.71 ERA) is having another strong season, and he will look to maintain that success Tuesday. Sabathia has allowed just four total runs over his past three starts, earning victories in two of those games.

In his last outing Thursday against the Red Sox, Sabathia gave up just one run and four hits over six innings. Sabathia knows the Orioles well, going 19-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 40 starts against them. He has no decisions and a 6.94 ERA in two starts vs. Baltimore this year.

Baltimore's Jeremy Hellickson (8-8, 5.15 ERA overall) will be trying to bounce back from a shaky outing Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays. He allowed seven runs, four walks and seven hits, including a homer, in just 4 2/3 innings. The right-hander has lost three of his past four decisions.

"Command was a little off," Hellickson said. "I just fell behind on way too many guys. Too many walks. This has happened way too many times this year. I mean, two outs, no runs. Just like that, there was a five-spot up there. So, I've got to find a way to get that third out that inning."

Hellickson is 4-2 with a 3.21 ERA in nine career appearances, including seven starts, against New York. The right-hander, who began the season with the Philadelphia Phillies, has not faced the Yankees this year.
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