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Orioles-Yankees preview

NEW YORK -- For most of the season, the offense was under-whelming for the New York Yankees.

Recently, the offense has picked up and because it has, the Yankees are in the midst of a race for a wild card spot in the American League.

After two extremely productive showings at the plate, the Yankees will attempt to have another and inch closer in the race Sunday in the finale of a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles.

In the two games, the Yankees have put up some big numbers. They have 27 runs, are hitting .429 and are 14-for-27 with runners in scoring position in this series.

The productivity continued Saturday with a 13-5 win when rookie Gary Sanchez reached 11 home runs faster than any player. Sanchez did it in his 23rd game when he connected off Dylan Bundy in the fourth inning.

"It's unbelievable," Yankees shortstop Starlin Castro said. "I think that he is impressive. It's fun to watch. Every time he goes to the plate, we feel like something is going to happen in a good way and it's really fun to watch."

Castro also homered and had four hits, while every starter had a hit and five had multiple hit games.

Because of the energized offense featuring Sanchez in the middle of the lineup, the Yankees are 2 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot.

They were 5 1/2 games out on Aug. 1 after completing a sell-off that netted 11 prospects and led many to believe the season was over.

"I told you we were here to win games and I really liked some of the things we did bringing up some of the young kids," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

"I thought they could help us. I know that obviously we traded our leading RBI and home run guy and two really good relievers. But I still felt there was enough talent in that room to win and we need to continue to do it."

While the Yankees seem to be gaining momentum with each win, things seem to be slipping away from the Orioles, especially on the mound.

After allowing 18 hits in consecutive games for the first time since August 1993 and 13 runs in consecutive games for the first time since May 2011, the Orioles have a 4.52 ERA, which an offense with 202 home runs can't compensate for.

Baltimore has lost eight of its last 12 games since Aug. 15, when it last held any share of first place. The Orioles have allowed eight runs in five of their last nine games and have an 8.23 ERA since Aug. 17.

"What's going on right now doesn't surprise anybody," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "They're all challenging times and our guys always respond well."

The Orioles had the offense by hitting five home runs. Chris Davis homered twice and Mark Trumbo added his 39th, but it was hardly enough since Baltimore continued struggling on the mound.

"It's just not going for us," Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado said. "Nothing really, really to it. Just not getting any hits, clean hits. Just out-hitting us. They're doing what they need to be doing, and we're not. Nothing's falling for us. No excuses."

The Orioles also won't make any excuses if they have to attempt to avoid a sweep without Adam Jones. Jones grounded out to third to start Friday's game and was pulled with a left hamstring strain in the second inning.

Jones did not start Saturday and is unlikely to play Sunday.

The Yankees began this series by starting two rookies, Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Another young pitcher was originally scheduled to go, but the Yankees announced CC Sabathia would start Sunday and Michael Pineda would go Monday in Kansas City.

Sabathia's numbers against Baltimore might have something to do with it and the fact that he is coming off a solid seven-inning performance in Seattle when he allowed a run and three hits Monday.

He pitched 12 scoreless innings in Baltimore May 4 and June 5, and Sabathia allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings July 21 while opposing Chris Tillman.

Sabathia is 19-8 with a 3.33 ERA in 36 career starts against Baltimore. With the Yankees, he is 14-8 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 starts and at Yankee Stadium, he is 6-2 with a 3.58 ERA in nine starts.

Sabathia also has done well against Baltimore's top hitters. Jones is 19-for-75 (.253), Machado is 11-for-43 (.256), Davis is 8-for-39 (.205), Matt Wieters is 7-for-43 (.163) and Trumbo is 6-for-25 (.240).

This season those players are a combined 3-for-33 against Sabathia.

After the sub-par results from Yovani Gallardo and Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman starts for the Orioles.

Gausman is 0-9 with a 5.32 ERA in 13 outings away from Baltimore but one of the right-hander's best road starts was a 2-1 loss in New York when he allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

In three starts against the Yankees, the Orioles have scored six runs for him, and Gausman has allowed three runs in 20 2/3 innings.

Gausman's numbers against the Yankees reflect his recent performance as he is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in his last five starts. Gausman last pitched during Tuesday's 8-1 win against Washington and allowed six hits in six scoreless innings.