NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees remain on the hunt for starting pitching in the great arms race between them and the Boston Red Sox. They also showed a willingness to add another arm to their already strong bullpen by adding Zach Britton.
While general manager Brian Cashman continues his attempts to add starting pitching before next Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, Britton will be available to the Yankees on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium.
Britton was acquired Tuesday night from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league pitchers Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll and Josh Rogers, who were all at Double-A or higher. Britton made his season debut last month after recovering from an Achilles tendon injury and was 1-0 with a 3.45 ERA and four saves in 16 appearances this season.
"You've got to go into a new team and earn your role, especially with the guys they have over there," Britton told reporters in Baltimore on Tuesday. "They've got some guys who are doing really well. I'm just going to try to fit in. Right now, I'm just excited to get on a winning team and hopefully do some good things."
In his eight seasons for the Orioles, Britton was 30-22 with a 3.22 ERA and 139 saves. He went 47-for-47 in save chances in 2016 when Baltimore won the AL's second wild-card spot and converted a league-record 60 straight save chances from Oct. 1, 2015-Aug. 21.
"How close he is to the All-Star guy (he was), I don't know," Cashman said on a conference call Wednesday. "Our hope is we'll be able to see something like that on a consistent basis. He obviously had a major injury he came back from and he's missed a lot of time in knocking the rust off and closing the gap on where he was and what he's capable of. Hopefully, the best is yet to come."
The Yankees added Britton to a bullpen that already includes Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman and David Robertson. A two-month rental for now, the Yankees are paying $4.38 million of Britton's remaining $12 million salary.
Britton will be going from the AL's worst team to the team holding the first wild-card spot in the AL. New York, however, is in the middle of a mediocre stretch after Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay.
Since taking two of three from Boston from June 29-July 1, the Yankees are 10-9 in their last 19 games and 14-14 in their last 28 games. New York went through the three-game series in Tampa Bay without hitting a homer, marking the first time since Sept. 22-24, 2016, it went three straight games without a homer.
Kansas City (31-70) owns the second-worst record in the majors and became the second team to 70 losses when they were handed an 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday afternoon. Since losing 10 straight, the Royals are 6-5 in their last 11 games.
Whit Merrifield went 2-for-5 and has reached safely in 21 of his last 22 games. During this stretch, he is hitting .367 (33-for-90).
One of the reasons the Yankees are searching for starting pitching help is the inconsistency displayed by Sonny Gray, who starts Thursday. Gray was acquired from the Oakland Athletics for three prospects at last year's non-waiver trade deadline and is 11-14 with a 4.69 ERA in 30 starts as a Yankee.
He is 7-7 with a 5.34 ERA in 19 starts this season, with most of his wins coming against losing teams. Against losing teams, he is 6-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 13 starts as opposed to his 1-5 mark and 7.76 ERA in six starts against winning teams.
Gray is looking to win three straight starts for the sixth time in his career and first time as a Yankee. On Saturday, he allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 7-6 win.
Gray faced the Royals in Kansas City on May 20 and retired the first 14 hitters while allowing one run on four hits in eight innings. Gray is 2-2 with a 5.38 ERA in five career starts against the Royals.
Jakob Junis starts for the Royals and is seeking his first win since beating the Yankees on May 18. Since allowing two runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 5-2 win over New York, Junis is 0-7 with a 6.75 ERA in his last nine starts.
Junis will be making his second start since missing nearly three weeks with lower-back inflammation. He took a no-decision on Saturday when he allowed one run and four hits in four innings.
Junis leads the majors by allowing 24 homers but did not surrender one Saturday in a 77-pitch outing. It was the seventh time this season he did not allow a homer.
"That's been my kryptonite all year, getting beat by the home run ball," Junis told reporters. "So, to get the amount of soft contact and ground balls I did tonight was very promising, and hopefully I can keep doing that."
Junis is 1-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two starts against the Yankees. He gave up Aaron Judge's 50th homer last season at Yankee Stadium when he allowed six runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.