New York is 30-11 against Baltimore since the start of the 2010 season and 4-1 this year after losing, 7-1, on Tuesday night. But the early-April sweep in Baltimore came by a combined margin of four runs, and the Yankees won the second two games of the series in extra innings. Monday's 2-1 game was a close one, a night before New York finally lost.
And nearly a month into the regular season, the club most experts predicted to win the AL East is 1 1/2 games behind the club nobody gave a chance in perhaps baseball's toughest division. The Orioles will try to prolong their hot start on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, sending Jake Arrieta to the mound to face Ivan Nova.
"This game is sometimes hard to explain; it really is," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Why you play better against one team and not the other and have the exact same records, in a sense -- sometimes you just match up well against clubs. I think they're a much-improved club this year, when you look at them. What have we won, three games, by one run, out of the four?
"It's kind of that thing when we were playing Minnesota. It seemed like every game was a one-run game or an extra-innings game, and we were finding ways to end up on top."
Arrieta is 1-2 with a 4.45 ERA on the year but just 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts on the road. The right-hander started against the Yankees on April 11, giving up four runs on five hits and a walk while striking out five. He didn't complete six innings in either of his last two starts despite doing so in each of his first three, and he's seen his ERA climb from 2.66 to 4.45 in the process.
"It's frustrating having two starts in a row where a couple at-bats changed the whole complexion of the outing," Arrieta said. "So I think eliminating situations like that is something I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. Just keeping my foot on the gas, and when I have it set up to put certain guys away, finish the job and don't let guys continue to foul balls off and get into hitter-friendly counts. Just maintain that aggression.
Nova is coming off a rough outing of his own, against the Tigers on Friday, when he allowed six runs on 11 hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings, though he was taken off the hook as the Yankees ended up winning on a passed ball in the ninth inning.
"I was focused -- I got hit," Nova said on Friday. "I knew one day I was going to get hit. The good thing is that we didn't lose. We won, and it's not about [me]; it's about the team."
The Yankees' outburst at the plate kept alive Nova's streak of 15 consecutive winning decisions; the right-hander hasn't lost since last June 3, and one more win before he takes a loss will pull Nova even with Roger Clemens' franchise record of 16 straight, set in 2001.
Orioles: Reimold dealing with back pain
Outfielder Nolan Reimold was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his back and returned to Baltimore on Tuesday to receive a Medrol Dosepak to ease the pain in hopes of returning later this week against Boston.
"The doctor's recommendation is just let it quiet down there," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Hopefully, it sounds worse than it actually is. If he doesn't get relief from it, then we'll see what the next step is."
Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada underwent an MRI exam and a CT scan on his left elbow during a visit to Dr. Lewis Yocum, and neither test revealed anything new. The lefty can either undergo surgery to repair the partially torn ligament or rest and hope it heals with rehab.
Yankees: Pineda's surgery successful
Right-hander Michael Pineda underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Tuesday in New York to repair a tear in the labrum, and Girardi heard that it went well. Pineda is expected to be sidelined for about a year.
"The rehab doesn't start right now, but it starts now, basically," Girardi said. "We're anxious to get this guy back, and now he's on the road to recovery."
Girardi said on Tuesday that he hopes to have outfielders Nick Swisher (left hamstring) and Brett Gardner (right elbow) back in the lineup early next week.
The Red Sox and Yankees announced that their April 22 rainout in Boston will be made up as the first game of a day-night doubleheader on July 7 at Fenway Park.
Baltimore's Nick Johnson snapped an 0-for-29 slump to open the season on Tuesday with an RBI double in the eighth inning.