NEW YORK (AP) — Despite losing their last two games, the New York Yankees have done plenty of winning lately as they chase another AL East title.
A victory Tuesday night could have special significance for their ace.
CC Sabathia has an excellent chance for his first 20-win season as he faces the Baltimore Orioles – a team he’s dominated throughout his career – at Yankee Stadium, where he’s won his last 16 decisions.
“It’d be cool,” Sabathia said of the potential feat last week. “We’re still trying to wrap up the division. It’s hard to think about personal accomplishments.”
The major league leader in wins, Sabathia (19-5, 3.02 ERA) is a big reason why the Yankees are atop the East, becoming a top contender for his second AL Cy Young Award by going 15-2 with a 2.40 ERA since the beginning of June.
He’s 11-0 with a 2.27 ERA this season in the Bronx, where he hasn’t lost since July 2, 2009 – tying Whitey Ford’s franchise record by making 21 straight home starts without a loss.
The big left-hander also won 19 games in 2007 and 2009, getting one chance at a 20th victory last year. But he lasted 2 2-3 innings in a 13-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 2.
He should have several opportunities this season, but he may only need one. He has won each of his last eight starts against Baltimore, improving to 13-1 with a 2.59 ERA in his career versus the Orioles.
Sabathia has won his last six starts overall, including a brilliant outing against Oakland on Thursday. He allowed one hit – Mark Ellis’ second-inning single – in eight innings of a 5-0 win.
That was part of a season-best eight-game winning streak for the Yankees (86-52), but Toronto snapped that run with a 7-3 win Sunday and the Orioles opened this three-game series Monday with a 4-3 victory.
“Yesterday and today are just two games,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Our focus is on the division. What we want to do is win the division and have the best record in the American League.”
Baltimore (52-86) has the AL’s worst record, and Monday’s win was its first in seven games at New York this season. But the Orioles have been playing much better under former Yankees manager Buck Showalter, who is 20-13 since taking over Aug. 3.
“You can’t just walk over us, because we’re playing good baseball right now,” left-hander Brian Matusz said. “It’s fun to come out and beat teams in our division.”
The Yankees have been playing worse with Alex Rodriguez in their lineup. Although Rodriguez homered Monday – setting a major league record by reaching 100 RBIs for the 14th time – New York slipped to 5-12 since Aug. 1 when the three-time MVP plays.
The reigning World Series champions have gone 21-3 this year without Rodriguez, who was activated from the disabled list Sunday.
Rodriguez has never faced Baltimore rookie Jake Arrieta (4-6, 5.11), who faces the Yankees again after beating them 4-3 in his major league debut June 10. Rodriguez left that game in the first inning with groin tightness.
Arrieta is 0-3 in his last four starts. He didn’t receive a decision in Wednesday’s 9-6 loss to Boston after giving up three runs in five innings.
The Orioles hope outfielder Adam Jones can return to the lineup after missing five games with a shoulder injury.
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