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Yankees vs. Orioles leads critical AL matchups

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The Sports Network
9/8/2012 11:40:36 AM
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(Sports Network) - CC Sabathia can extend the New York Yankees' lead atop the American League East on Saturday when they continue a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.

Sabathia did not get a decision on Monday against Tampa Bay, as he allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings. He's 13-4 on the year to go along with a 3.42 ERA.

Since winning six decisions over a nine-start stretch, Sabathia is 0-1 over his last two outings, but still has only allowed more than three runs once in his previous 10 trips to the hill. Still, he's been unable to hold a lead in either of his last two starts.

"It's frustrating, especially after the last outing, not being able to hold the lead," Sabathia said on Monday. "I've just got to be a lot better than I was."

Sabathia stands a good chance at getting himself right, as he owns a 16-3 lifetime mark against the O's with a 2.97 ERA in 24 starts. However, he lost to them the last time he faced them.

Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with left-hander Joe Saunders, who was brilliant in beating Toronto his last time out. Saunders carried a perfect game into the sixth inning on Monday, before No. 9 hitter Adeiny Hechavarria broke it up with a two-out single up the middle. He left after scattering three hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

It was a sharp contrast from his first start with the Orioles which saw him give up seven runs (6 earned) on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Chicago White Sox.

"When I got traded over here, they had a great thing going and you just want to come over here and contribute as much you can," said Saunders, who was acquired from Arizona on Aug. 26. "You don't want to mess it up and get blown up a lot. You want to keep the team in the ballgame, give the team a chance to win and that's what I was able to do today."

Saunders has faced the Yankees five times and is 2-1 with a 6.28 ERA.

New York regained sole possession of first place in the division on Friday with an 8-5 victory.

Baltimore pulled even atop the division with a 10-6 win on Thursday, but home runs by Russell Martin, Steve Pearce and Alex Rodriguez off Wei-Yin Chen (12-9) sparked the rout and evened the pivotal series.

"We're a tough team. We've got guys that have been in tough situations," said Martin of the Yankees suddenly finding themselves in a pennant race after leading the Orioles by 10 games on July 18. "It feels like the playoffs."

Phil Hughes (14-12), five days removed from suffering a loss to the Orioles, earned the win with six quality innings on the hill.

"The slider was a good pitch for me," Hughes said. "It got me out of some jams. Really, I just tried to get us through some clean innings early and tried to give us a chance to get the lead."

On the injury front, the Yankees expect to have first baseman Mark Teixeira back in the lineup on Saturday. He tested his strained left calf on Friday and said he felt better than 80 percent, but was advised to rest for one more day.

Despite Thursday's loss, the Yanks have won five of seven in Baltimore this season and 22 of 31 at Camden Yards since last losing a series of at least two games there April 6-9, 2009.

The Yankees have split 16 games with the O's this season.

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays had hoped to have ace left-hander David Price on the hill on Saturday, but the team is skipping him because of a sore shoulder. Instead it will be rookie Chris Archer when they continue a three- game series with the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field.

So, it will be Archer, who was 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts earlier in the year. In 10 appearances in Triple-A Durham after getting sent back down, though, he was 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA and struck out 42 batters in 46 1/3 frames.

"Any time you get the opportunity to take the ball in the big leagues, it's super exciting," Archer told the team's official website ahead of his home debut. "You try not to get overwhelmed with everything. But it's always exciting."

Getting the call for the Rangers on Saturday will be Japanese righty Yu Darvish, who is 14-9 with a 4.29 ERA. Darvish won his second straight start on Monday in Kansas City, as he allowed three runs and three hits in seven innings.

"I think it's coming together, or going in that direction," said Darvish, who is 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA in his last four starts. "Today I really felt my command was good. Everything is going in a good direction."

Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels

(Sports Network) - The last time Justin Verlander faced the LA Angels of Anaheim, he outdueled Jered Weaver and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his team's 3-2 win.

Detroit's reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and league MVP is 4-4 with a 3.68 earned run average in 11 career matchups with Anaheim, and ended a four-start winless drought in a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, when he fanned 11 and gave up one run in eight innings.

The Tigers lost the opener of this set, 3-2, on Friday. Angels pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo singled home Peter Bourjos with the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Tigers reliever Octavio Dotel was saddled with the loss and Max Scherzer's strong outing was wasted by a lack of offense.

Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox

(Sports Network) - Although Chris Sale has lost three of his last four starts, the left-hander has been dominant at home.

Sale aims to win his eighth straight decision at U.S. Cellular Field today when the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox resume their three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.

Sale, who is coming off losses to Detroit and Baltimore on the road, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his previous eight home starts. He hasn't lost at home since May 12 against the Royals when Luke Hochevar and a pair of relievers combined on a three-hit shutout.

Bruce Chen aims for a bounce-back performance this afternoon for the Royals. The southpaw allowed four home runs in an 8-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Monday. He enters today's start one strikeout shy of 1,000 for his career.

CC Sabathia (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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