(SportsNetwork.com) – Masahiro Tanaka will take the mound in search of his 12th win of the season as his New York Yankees battle the Baltimore Orioles in the final match of a three-game set at Camden Yards.
Tanaka has been dominant in his first season with the Yankees, and with these two AL East squads battling it out with Toronto at the top of the division, every win is crucial.
To say Tanaka has been on fire would be an understatement. He’s recorded decisions in his last nine starts, of which eight have been victories. He’s won five games in a row and boasts an 11-1 record on the season with a 1.99 ERA and a 113-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“I told him after his last start that I was going to start leaving my glove in the dugout and just run out to left field,” said Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner after the team’s win over Toronto Tuesday. “All you need to do is get him a couple of runs and we’ll get the win and that’s what happened tonight.”
Against the Blue Jays, Tanaka lasted six innings, gave up just one run on five hits and struck out 10 batters – the second time in as many starts he’s recorded double-digit punchouts. During his five-game win streak, Tanaka has notched at least six K’s.
At Yankee Stadium, Tanaka is 5-0 this season with a 1.86 ERA. Opponents are batting just .200 against him in the Bronx.
Chris Tillman gets the call to start for the Orioles in the Sunday matchup. Tillman enters with a 5-4 record on the season and a 4.82 earned run average in 15 starts on the year.
Against Toronto last Sunday, Tillman went seven innings and gave up three runs on eight hits, but the Orioles couldn’t get anything going for him offensively in the 5-2 Toronto win. In those seven innings, Tillman didn’t record a single strikeout or a walk.
He’s struggled against the Yankees in his career, with a 4-4 record and a 6.70 ERA in 10 career starts. He is 5-0 on the road this season, though.
Saturday’s contest was a one-sided affair for Baltimore, started by an Adam Jones solo home run in the first inning. Then in the fourth inning, Nelson Cruz clobbered his 23rd home run of the season – a two-run shot – to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead early. They hung on for the eventual 6-1 victory.
Bud Norris picked up the win for Baltimore – his seventh on the season. He lasted five innings and gave up three hits with one earned run. The loss for the Yankees will hang on Vidal Nuno, who pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed five runs, four of them earned.
Steve Pearce added two hits — one a two-run homer — for Baltimore. Mark Teixeira provided the only RBI for the Yankees.
Sunday’s contest will be the rubber match in the series. Baltimore won two of three matchups in the Bronx back in early April in the only other series between the sides this season.
The Yankees had a four-game winning streak snapped with the loss.
Sunday also marks Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium, with nearly 50 former Yankee players set to attend. That includes expected appearances by Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson, while Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and John Montefusco will make making their debut at the event.
As part of the pregame ceremonies, the Yankees also will honor Goose Gossage with a plague in Monument Park.