Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Kevin Gausman delivers to the St. Louis Cardinals during the second inning on June 16, 2017 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK -- Manny Machado stood at his locker and saw the crowd of reporters from New York awaiting him Thursday afternoon.
He knew members of the New York media were waiting to ask him about his pending free agency and other topics such as joining the New York Yankees and how he likes playing at Yankee Stadium.
These days, Machado has other concerns.
Among them is trying to get the Baltimore Orioles out of their slow start and they will attempt to do so Friday night in the second contest of a four-game series against the New York Yankees.
The Orioles began the series on the right note by scoring five times in the top of the seventh inning and getting a 5-2 victory on Thursday. Adam Jones hit a two-run homer off Masahiro Tanaka while Trey Mancini highlighted a three-hit night with a two-run single.
For most of the winter, speculation brewed about Machado possibly being dealt in his walk year and then he moved back to his natural position of shortstop. Before Baltimore stopped a five-game losing streak, Machado said he had no intention of moving off shortstop, which is occupied in New York by Didi Gregorius.
"It's still early," he said. "Everyone's starting to click together. It's just a matter of time [before] we start clicking. I know our pitching staff is better than what's happening and we're a better offense than we've been playing. It's nothing to be concerned about. It's going to be just fine."
Further magnifying the speculation was Aaron Judge's playful remark to Machado in spring training when he said to the shortstop: "You'd look good in pinstripes."
"It's a situation that was blown out of proportion, it's just how New York media is," Machado said. "He's a great kid. He meant well. It was just chit-chatter, like everyone else, just messing around. It was just blown out of proportion."
Baltimore is hitting .199 this season and will attempt to generate offense against CC Sabathia, who could show them his cut fastball often. Sabathia threw 34 cutters Saturday when he allowed two runs (one earned) and five hits in five innings of a 5-3 loss at Toronto.
Sabathia is inching his way up various all-time lists. He is five strikeouts from Jim Bunning (2,855) for 17th place on the all-time list and one win shy of sole possession of 60th place on the all-time list with 238.
Sabathia is 19-10 with a 3.56 ERA in 41 starts against the Orioles.
He is attempting to get a 20th win against a third opponent along with the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals. Last season, Sabathia did not get a decision but posted a 7.41 ERA in three starts against the Orioles.
Sabathia also is 0-3 with a 4.36 ERA in his last seven starts against Baltimore since May 4, 2016, at Camden Yards. His last win against the Orioles at home was Aug. 30, 2013.
Machado is a .353 hitter while Adam Jones bats .304 off Sabathia, who has held Chris Davis to a .200 mark and Jonathan Schoop to a .222 average.
Sabathia will hope New York's struggling relievers can protect a lead if he gets one. So far, the bullpen owns a 6.65 ERA after Chad Green allowed two runs in the seventh Thursday.
"I'm not because I'm not seeing any downtick in the stuff," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said when asked if he was concerned about the early struggles. "I just think they've gotten us a couple of times. So no, I'm concerned about it. There's no red flags to me as far as [a] drop in stuff where you think guys might at this time of the year."
After Andrew Cashner allowed Judge's solo homer in six innings, the Yankees will face Kevin Gausman (0-1, 13.50 ERA).
Gausman lasted four innings in Sunday's 7-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins and allowed six runs and seven hits, including three home runs for the eighth time. The only instance Gausman allowed three homers in consecutive starts occurred May 26-31, 2016 against Houston and Boston.
Gausman is 7-5 with a 3.53 ERA in 22 appearances (16 starts) against the Yankees. He was 1-2 with a 9.27 ERA in five starts against the Yankees last season after going 3-1 with a 1.10 ERA in six starts against New York in 2016.
Against Gausman, Brett Gardner is hitting .325, Gary Sanchez is 4-for-13 and Judge is 6-for-12.