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Birds look to bounce back, prep for rubber match


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.


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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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."