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Birds look to bounce back, prep for rubber match

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Birds look to bounce back, prep for rubber match

BALTIMORE -- The New York Yankees are playing as well as any team in the majors, and they can take a key three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday at Camden Yards.

After dropping the opener 3-2, New York rebounded with a dominant 8-3 win Tuesday night.

While Yankees manager Joe Girardi is pleased with his team's performance this season, he knows there still room for improvement.

"I just think at times we've been a little inconsistent with that we've done," Girardi said. "Teams go through that. Other times, we've pitched really, really well and have not scored runs. Other times, we scored runs and not pitched really, really well. Through the course of the season, you're going to go through that, or you're going to end up with 120 wins and that has not happened.

"I still like the way we're playing. We have a chance every game."

The Yankees are displaying power this season, led by rookie right fielder Aaron Judge, who has 17 home runs and a team-high 37 RBIs. On Tuesday, Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday each hit a pair of solo homers, which took the pressure off starter Luis Severino.

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Girardi appreciates that type of production from his hitters, especially against Baltimore, which has a high-powered offense of its own.

"It's never an easy game when we play them," Girardi said. "They're a very good team and they're very explosive. You never really feel it's safe."

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter has also been impressed with the Yankees this season. The Orioles' pitchers will need to do a much better job containing New York's lineup to avoid losing a home series for just the second time this season.

"They're a really good club," Showalter said. "They're going to be really hard to beat."

The Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka (5-4, 5.86 ERA) appears to be getting back on track. The right-hander allowed just one run and had a career-high 13 strikeouts in his last outing against the Oakland A's, but he still endured his third consecutive loss. In his previous two starts, Tanaka allowed a total of 14 runs on 16 hits over just 4 2/3 innings, which put added pressure on the bullpen.

Tanaka is 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in six career starts against Baltimore. He got a no-decision at Camden Yards on April 8, when he pitched five innings of three-run ball.

The Orioles will counter with right-hander Kevin Gausman, who has also pitched better after some early struggles. He has thrown consecutive quality starts and has shown better command recently.

In his last outing, Friday against the Houston Astros, Gausman (2-4, 6.17 ERA) allowed two runs on a pair of solo homers over 6 2/3 innings. The Orioles, however, could not muster any offense in a 2-0 loss.

Gausman has enjoyed some success against the Yankees over his career, going 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 19 appearances (13 starts).

"I know my stuff's really good when I'm getting a lot of foul balls," Gausman said. "That's one thing that throughout my whole career, when I'm on, guys are fouling it off. Unfortunately, it kind of gets me into deep counts."

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Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

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USA Today Sports

Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered Friday night and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched third place in the AL East with a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria led off the fifth with his 20th homer off Baltimore starter Wade Miley, marking Longoria's fifth straight 20-homer season and the ninth of his 10-year career.

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Morrison hit his 38th homer off reliever Chris Tillman in the seventh.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi left his final start of the season after four innings with a sore right knee.

Brad Boxberger (4-4) got the win as the first of four Tampa Bay relievers.

Miley (8-15) lost his fifth straight start, giving up four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked five, raising his major league-leading total to 93. The Baltimore bullpen gave up five more walks.

Trey Mancini had one of Baltimore's four hits. It was Mancini's 158th hit, tying Cal Ripken (1982) for second-place all-time among Oriole rookies.

The Orioles, shut out for the 11th time, lost for the 17th time in 21 games and dropped three games behind Tampa Bay with two games left in the season.

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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

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USA TODAY Sports

MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

With the MLB postseason only five days away and three more days in the regular season the playoff field is almost set.

After Thursday night’s action, the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Their 2-1 loss to the Cubs put them too far out of reach of the Rockies.

In the American League the AL East race is all but done after the Yankees lost on Thursday.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE

Not too many changes in the American League race after yesterday.

The New York Yankees (89-70) lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 at home after entering the day only three games back in the division. While the Boston Red Sox (92-67) lost too, three games to surpass is too much for even the Bronx Bombers to overcome.

It will be interesting though to watch both teams sweat. Boston hosts the Houston Astros who are trying to overtake the Indians for the top seed in the AL. New York hosts division rivals Toronto.

The Minnesota Twins (83-76) lost to the Indians after allowing 10 hits in the contest. Win or lose it does not matter how they end the season because they will be the No. 5 seed and the visitors in the American League Wild Card Game. Presumably it will be against the Yankees.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

New York Yankees:     +6.0 
Minnesota Twins:           ---
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado was off on Thursday night in preparation for their final series of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Milwaukee Brewers (84-75) did manage to gain a half game with their nail biting 4-3 win over the Reds. Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and the final three frames remained scoreless for both squads.

They now move to two games back of the Colorado Rockies (86-73) with three games to go.

Colorado will host their final series against the Dodgers. Milwaukee is traveling to the St. Louis Cardinals (82-77) for their final three games. St. Louis is now out of contention, four games out of the final Wild Card spot.

FanGraphs.com now has Colorado at a 93.3 percent chance of taking the final postseason spot.  Milwaukee moved up slightly to 6.7 percent.

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NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:                   ---
Milwaukee Brewers:              -2.0