Bring on ... the Orioles?
The slumping New York Yankees will play the first meaningful series for both teams against Baltimore in more than a decade this weekend in the Bronx.
With an 18-21 mark since July 18, the Bombers have frittered away much of the 10-game lead they once held in the American League East. The surprising Orioles, who are on the verge of finishing above .500 for the first time since 1997, arrive for a three-game series Friday just three games behind the Yanks in the division race.
"We're obviously not playing our best baseball lately, but (Friday) we have a chance to push back on Baltimore, and they obviously have a chance to gain ground," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News. "That's the baseball season, there are always ups and downs and there are always challenges, and this is the one in front of us right now."
The Yankees, who remain without sluggers Alex Rodriguez (hand) and Mark Teixeira (calf), went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position in an 8-5 loss Wednesday to last-place Toronto. They have scored just 26 runs in their last eight games.
"We're a little banged-up right now. But we just have to find a way to win games," Nick Swisher said. "It's almost like you can't do anything about (the injuries). You just have to keep going out there and plugging along. Obviously, if we could script it any different, we wouldn't have any of our guys banged up. But that's the way the season goes. It's a long season, there are a lot of injuries, and I feel like we've dealt with that well this year. No excuses, we just have to go out there and get it done.
"But I've been saying it for a while, man, I think every game is a big game. We're not exactly making it any easier on ourselves. It was a tough series the past three days (against Toronto). Big series coming up this weekend. I'm expecting us to really step it up and get this thing turned around."