The Baltimore Orioles snapped a 14-year playoff drought last season thanks in large part to beating up on fellow AL East opponents.
That success appears to have carried into 2013.
The visiting Orioles try to win their third straight series against an East foe Sunday night as they conclude a three-game set against the New York Yankees .
After 14 consecutive losing seasons, Baltimore (6-5) came out of nowhere to win one of two wild-card spots last year. The Orioles compiled a 43-29 division record in 2012, and have already taken two of three from Tampa Bay and Boston this season.
"They don't dwell on past things, good or bad," said manager Buck Showalter, whose team has won three of four on the road. "That's one of the characteristics of our club."
"We have a great lineup, one through nine. Anyone can hit the ball out of the ballpark," said Markakis, hitting .407 with four homers and 13 RBIs in his last 14 games in the Bronx. "I'd stack our lineup up against anybody's."
The Orioles will try to stay hot against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda (1-1, 6.75 ERA), who gave up three runs, five hits and four walks over 5 1-3 innings in Monday's 11-6 win at Cleveland. The right-hander had been dealing with a bruised right middle finger but didn't appear to be hindered.
Kuroda was 1-1 with a 2.66 ERA in three starts - including one in the postseason - against the Orioles last year. J.J. Hardy went deep for his only hit in 14 career at-bats versus Kuroda, and McLouth is 4 for 20.
Baltimore counters with Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 3.75), who's pitched well but doesn't have much to show for it. After allowing two runs over 5 2-3 innings of an 8-7 walkoff loss at Tampa Bay on April 3, Chen surrendered three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings Monday in a 3-1 loss at Boston.
"Compared with my last outing, I feel like I'm getting better and better," Chen, who retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, told MLB's official website through interpreter Tim Lin. "But the baseball god is not with me."
Chen has been knocked around in four regular-season outings against the Yankees (5-5), going 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA. He was especially bad in an 8-5 loss Sept. 7, giving up a career worst-tying seven runs before pulled with two outs in the fifth.
The lefty, however, did limit New York to one earned run over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-2 victory Oct. 8 in the AL division series.
Chen will try to slow down Robinson Cano , who is 11 for 19 with three homers and four doubles over the last four games. With Derek Jeter still sidelined and Eduardo Nunez out after getting hit by a pitch on the wrist Friday, Cano moved over to shortstop in the top of the ninth Saturday after Brennan Boesch pinch hit for Jayson Nix . Nunez's status for Sunday is unknown.
"It was weird - the first time that I played there since 2002," Cano said. "But I know that was the situation, that I'm the only guy there. Whatever it takes to help the team, I will do."
The Yankees have dropped 10 of 16 in the regular season to the Orioles, including seven of 10 at home.
|April 07, 2013||Nolan Reimold||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring tightness|
|April 05, 2013||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Ruptured tendon, right knee|
|April 04, 2013||Brian Roberts||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring injury|
|March 26, 2013||Wilson Betemit||60-Day DL||Right PCL tear|
|March 23, 2013||Steve Johnson||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|March 22, 2013||Tsuyoshi Wada||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|New York Yankees|
|April 12, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist contusion|
|March 26, 2013||Cesar Cabral||60-Day DL||Left elbow pain|
|March 22, 2013||Curtis Granderson||15-Day DL||Fractured right forearm|
|March 22, 2013||Derek Jeter||15-Day DL||Recovery from left ankle surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Phil Hughes||15-Day DL||Right upper back thoracic injury|
|March 22, 2013||Mark Teixeira||15-Day DL||Strained right wrist - out 8-10 weeks|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Hiroki Kuroda gave the Yankees a start they could lean on right when they needed it.
Kuroda pitched a five-hitter for his fifth major league shutout and Brett Gardner hit his first home run off a left-handed pitcher since July 2010, leading the New York over the Baltimore Orioles 3-0 Sunday night.
"I thought his sinker was excellent," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Look at all the groundball outs he got."
Kuroda (2-1) struck out four and walked none, lifting the Yankees back over .500 at 6-5. New York's rotation was looking fraught coming in. Phil Hughes had been hit hard by the Orioles the previous day, and Andy Pettitte 's scheduled return from back spasms had been pushed back to next weekend's series at Toronto.
The Japanese right-hander hadn't had much to be confident about, either. He took a line drive off the middle finger on his pitching hand in his first start and had to come out, then was shaky against Clevelandm, when he allowed four walks and five hits.
On Sunday night, Kuroda was locked in. He got 18 groundball outs, and the Orioles didn't get a runner past first base until Nick Markakis took second on Adam Jones ' bouncer to third in the ninth. That brought the Orioles down to their final out, and Kuroda struck out Chris Davis for the third time.
"I was able to throw my sinker with precision," Kuroda said through an interpreter.
Kuroda's eighth inning ended with a snappy double play started by shortstop Jayson Nix , who ranged far to his left to scoop up Nate McLouth 's grounder up the middle and flipped to Robinson Cano covering the bag for a 6-4-3 double play.
"He kept his pitch count down, that's why I kept running him out there." Girardi said. "I think he's got outstanding command and he really knows how to pitch."
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen (0-2) matched him until the fifth. Brennan Boesch led off with a single and scored on Nix's sacrifice fly, and Gardner hit a drive high off the right-field foul pole. Gardner had gone 178 at-bats without a home run off a lefty - 198 including the postseason - since connecting off Toronto's Ricky Romero on July 3, 2010.
"On the mound, I was thinking too much and that cost the big inning for us," Chen said through an interpreter.
A prototypical leadoff hitter with speed and a good on-base percentage, Gardner wasn't always a fixture atop the Yankees' lineup - especially against left-handed starters. This season, he's led off in all 11 games.
Chen allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. dropping to 0-6 with a 4.37 ERA in 10 starts since winning Aug. 19 at Detroit. He's winless in three starts this season, though in his previous outing he held Boston to two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-1 loss.
"He pitched real well, gave us a chance to win," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We just weren't able to score any runs. With very few exceptions, he was just as good as Kuroda."
NOTES: Chen was the only Orioles pitcher who made more than 20 starts last season, his first in the major leagues. ... Pettitte is expected to make his next start Friday at Toronto after his turn in the rotation was pushed back. The Yankees had the 40-year-old in line to start Sunday but he experienced back spasms Thursday night, initially leading the team to push his outing back to Tuesday or Wednesday. Ivan Nova is set to start Tuesday, followed by CC Sabathia and Hughes. ... Showalter said that OF-INF Conor Jackson has decided to retire. The 30-year-old Jackson had been the Orioles' last player cut in spring training. ... It was a breezy 51 degrees when the game started. ... The Yankees have 18 homers in 11 games this season.