After seeing their longest winning streak of the season come to an end, the New York Yankees appear to have a good opportunity to bounce back when they face a Baltimore Orioles team they've frustrated all season.
Winning with A.J. Burnett on the mound, though, hasn't been easy for the AL East leaders.Scheduled to take the ball in Monday's opener, Burnett looks to build on his first victory in more than five weeks in Buck Showalter's first game at Yankee Stadium as Baltimore's manager.New York's eight-game winning streak was snapped with a 7-3 loss to Toronto on Sunday. Alex Rodriguez singled twice and drove in a run in his return to the lineup after a stint on the disabled list with a left calf strain."It felt great," said Rodriguez, who also made several nice plays at third. "I haven't hit for a long time, so I'm just trying to feel my way. But I felt pretty good."In a strange twist, the Yankees (86-51) have actually fared much better without the 13-time All-Star. New York went 11-3 when Rodriguez was on the DL and is 21-3 without the three-time AL MVP in the lineup this season.The Yankees, 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Tampa Bay, have experienced a similar discrepancy in Burnett's starts.New York is 4-12 with Burnett (10-12, 5.15 ERA) on the mound since the start of June, compared to 51-19 in its other games.Burnett went 0-4 with a 7.80 ERA in five August outings, but got off to a good start to this month. The right-hander allowed three runs while striking out eight in six innings of a 4-3 win over Oakland on Wednesday, his first victory since July 28."My job is to go out there like I did tonight," Burnett said. "And keep it going next time."This will be Burnett's first start against the Orioles since allowing four runs in 6 2/3 innings of a 4-3 loss June 10. He did not allow an earned run in winning his first two starts of the year against them.New York is 10-2 versus Baltimore this season, and has outscored the Orioles 46-15 in winning the last seven in the Bronx.Nick Swisher, who returned to the lineup Sunday after missing the previous two games with a left knee injury, is batting .367 with two homers and 13 RBIs against Baltimore this year.The Orioles (51-86), however, are playing much better under Showalter, the AL Manager of the Year with New York in 1994. They defeated the Rays 8-7 on Sunday and are 19-13 since Showalter took over."Spoiler or anything, we're going out there looking to win some games," said right fielder Nick Markakis, who has five RBIs in his last four contests. "That's the main objective here, and I think we're on the right path."Pitching has been the biggest reason for Baltimore's turnaround. The staff has a 3.64 ERA since Showalter took over after recording a 5.18 ERA in the first 105 games.Brian Matusz (7-12, 4.72) is leading the rotation, posting a 1.29 ERA in winning his last three starts. Against Boston on Tuesday, the left-hander gave up two runs in six innings of a 5-2 victory.Matusz has pitched well in three starts against the Yankees this season, recording a 2.41 ERA, but suffered a loss in each outing. He's had virtually no offensive help, receiving two total runs of support.