for this game

Yankees-Orioles Preview

May 10, 2009 - 4:15 AM By ANTHONY GIORNALISTA STATS Senior Writer

New York (14-15) at Baltimore (12-18), 1:35 p.m. EDT

After one of their worst pitching performances of the season, the last thing the New York Yankees need is to lose Joba Chamberlain.

Slipping closer to last place in the AL East, the Yankees may have to scratch their most consistent starting pitcher Sunday in the finale of a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles.

With its pitching staff struggling, New York (14-16) has lost six of seven and is just 1 1/2 games ahead of last-place Baltimore (13-18). High-priced offseason acquisitions CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett have not performed as well as expected, leaving the Yankees with a 5.58 ERA.

New York did get a gem from Sabathia in a 4-0 win over Baltimore on Friday, but fell apart the following night in a 12-5 loss.

It was the sixth time the Yankees have surrendered 10 runs or more this season. New York didn't allow double digits in runs for the second time last year until May 18.

"It's not what we want to do. I think we are capable of pitching much better," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes it's been the starter, sometimes it's been the bullpen."

Now, New York might have to do without Chamberlain (1-1, 3.77 ERA), at least for Sunday. The 23-year-old right hander broke a blood vessel in his thumb during batting practice Saturday, leaving his status for this contest in doubt.

Yankees head trainer Gene Monahan told Girardi he didn't think the injury would be an issue, but New York has tabbed Alfredo Aceves to start if Chamberlain can't pitch.

"Joba was able to grip the ball (Saturday) during the game," Girardi said. "We'll know fairly quickly when he starts warming up if he can go."

Chamberlain struck out a career-high 12 in his last start but struggled otherwise, allowing four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings as New York lost 7-3 to Boston on Tuesday. He became the fifth pitcher since 1900 to strike out 12 in 5 2-3 innings or less.

Chamberlain is 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA and a .167 opponents' batting average in one start and nine relief appearances versus the Orioles.

Whoever starts for the Yankees will be facing an Orioles lineup that is batting .277 with 12 home runs and 32 runs in their last six games despite getting shut out by Sabathia. Baltimore has won four of those contests, and its latest could give it the momentum to move closer to the Yankees in the standings.

Baltimore had an eight-run second inning and 16 hits in the game, including four home runs Saturday.

"We all know what we're capable of doing," said center fielder Adam Jones, who had three hits - including a home run - raising his average to .353.

Three-time AL MVP Alex Rodriguez, meanwhile, went 0 for 3 for New York in his second game back following hip surgery. He's never faced Koji Uehara (2-3, 4.42), who will take the mound for the Orioles on Sunday.

The 34-year-old rookie earned a win against the Yankees in his first major league start. He allowed one run and five hits in five innings before the Orioles held on for a 7-5 victory April 8.

The right-hander, though, is 0-3 in his last four starts after winning his first two.

In his last outing, Uehara gave up three runs and seven hits while striking out a career-high eight in 6 2-3 innings as Baltimore lost 6-3 to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.