Baltimore manager Buck Showalter is pleased with the way his club has performed so far this season, heading into its first matchup against the Yankees. He's just not completely pleased.
"We played three pretty good clubs with the American League East champions [Rays], the American League champions [Rangers] and a team that's going to be a power in the Central [Tigers], but that's life in the American League, period," Showalter said of the Orioles, off to a 6-3 start. "We know what the Yankees bring, and I don't know if there's anybody playing better than the Cleveland Indians right now."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, meanwhile, saw his club get shut out by Josh Beckett and the Red Sox on Sunday night, so he knows the club will have to bring some offense in its series against the O's -- and he's confident his team will get things going in all facets of the game.
"I think we have an explosive club," Girardi said. "I think that our bullpen has been set up a certain way, and I think it changes a little bit, too, when [Pedro] Feliciano comes back. We haven't had a ton of depth out of our starters, but I believe that will change."
The O's will start Chris Tillman in their series opener against the Yankees. New York will counter with A.J. Burnett.
Tillman struggled in his last outing, allowing four earned runs to Detroit in Thursday's no-decision. The 22-year-old endured a 32-pitch first inning and was eventually doomed by a high pitch count. He exited the game after allowing six hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Tillman allowed two runs in the nearly 20-minute first inning but settled down and posted zeros in the frames that followed.
"That's probably the one thing I take out of this game as a positive," Tillman said. "You guys can be the judge of it, but I think in the past, that first inning is one of those innings that really would get away from me. I was happy to be able to get back on my feet and [make] some of my pitches."
It will be only his third start of the season, but Burnett is already on a winning streak. For the second time in three seasons with the Yankees, the right-hander has two wins in his first two starts. He struck out five and walked two in six innings against the Twins, keeping them off balance with his offspeed pitches.
"He worked his fastball good, got a lot of strikes with his fastball, got ahead in the count with it," catcher Russell Martin said of Burnett. "But I think his best pitch today was his changeup. When he fell behind in the counts, he could throw it to lefties. He keeps his changeup down, so it works well with his fastball."
Orioles: Looking for leadoff help
The Orioles could use a boost at the top of the lineup. Right fielder Nick Markakis is hitting .250 for the season but has only two hits in his last 18 at-bats. Brian Roberts is hitting .189 and is hitless in his last 12 at-bats.
"I think I can speak for myself and Brian and the top of the order -- I think we need to do a little better job of getting on base," Markakis said. "But we've been facing some tough pitching. Other than that, I think we are pretty pleased with our record right now with the way we're swinging the bats, which says a lot about our pitching. We will get the bats going."
Yankees: A-Rod rests Sunday with flu
Alex Rodriguez was scratched from the Yankees' lineup in Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Red Sox with flu-like symptoms. He came off the field during batting practice and went into the clubhouse to rest. With Rodriguez out, Eric Chavez started at third base and Robinson Cano moved up to the cleanup spot in the order. Chavez went 1-for-3 and Cano extended his Fenway Park hitting streak to eight games.
The Yankees are 4-1 when holding opponents to four runs or fewer this season. They were 83-25 in such situations last season.
Expect New York fans to shower Showalter, a former Yankees manager and longtime coach in the organization, with boos this week. Tuesday will mark Showalter's first appearance at Yankee Stadium since he made critical remarks about New York shortstop Derek Jeter in Men's Journal magazine.