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TOR@BAL: Norris fans five over 6 2/3 innings of work

Buck Showalter has been in baseball a long time -- since the Yankees drafted him in the late 1970s -- so don't try to fool him into thinking this Orioles-Yankees series is the be-all and end-all when it comes to the American League East.

Sure, Baltimore and New York are both toward the top of the division standings along with the Blue Jays, and sure, the O's could pull even with the Yankees in those standings if they win the last two games of the series. But it's a little early to be too worried about that.

"Not yet," Showalter said of whether he looks at the standings often. "If somebody is 20 [games] over [.500] and I'm two over, yeah. You can't get bogged down in that mentality. I think we all know at some point a couple of clubs are going to get moving in the right direction."

The Orioles have been moving in the right direction, and their starter Saturday, righty Bud Norris, has been a big part of that. He owns a 3.73 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in his first full season in Baltimore.

Norris has been especially sharp his last two outings, limiting the Red Sox and Blue Jays to one run while scattering 10 hits and four walks in 14 2/3 innings.

The same can't be said of his opponent, left-hander Vidal Nuno. The A's roughed Nuno up during his last outing on Sunday, as he surrendered eight runs in three innings. His ERA during three starts in June is 7.43, and his overall mark stands at 5.90.

The Yankees are 5-6 in games in which Nuno starts, including 1-5 at Yankee Stadium, the site of Saturday's contest.

"I don't ever put that type of pressure on people," said Girardi of considering a replacement for Nuno. "They understand what is on the line every day, and they understand that this is a performance-based business."

During his bullpen session Wednesday, Nuno worked on finding the right grip on his cutter, which he said will be essential to his success. He said he is not worried about pitching for his job -- but he has been thinking about it.

"It's the nature of the game," he said. "It's in the back of my mind. I've been working on stuff day in and day out, but I'm just going to go out there, enjoy it and have fun.

"If I can't do that, I'm just going to keep fighting and see where it takes me."

Orioles: Hundley, Joseph solid at containing baserunning game
Replacing Matt Wieters' production at the plate is no easy task, but Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph are doing what they can to replace him behind it.

The pair has combined for a 33 percent caught-stealing rate with the Orioles this season, catching 10 of 30 would-be basestealers. The latest came Friday night, when Hundley cut down Ichiro Suziki in the fourth inning. Hundley's success rate is just 17 percent (2-for-12), but Joseph is at 44 percent (8-for-18).

Wieters threw out one of 12 runners this season before an elbow injury limited his time behind the plate and then ended his season. In six Major League seasons, Wieters has caught one in three runners on average.

Yankees: Girardi confident Kelley will return to form
Right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley missed just over a month of the season with a strained lumbar spine. Before heading to the disabled list on May 6, Kelley posted a 3.52 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, part of that coming while serving as the Yankees closer. But pitching has been a little tougher since his return to the team on June 12.

In five appearances, the righty has allowed three earned runs over just 3 2/3 innings for a 7.36 ERA in that span. In his most recent outing Friday night against the Orioles, Kelley tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

"I don't get overly concerned," said Girardi of Kelley's recent struggles. "Obviously, we need to get him back on a roll. It's important to get him going. It's frustrating for a player when you're pitching so well and then you get hurt and maybe you're not quite as sharp as you've been, but he'll get back on track. That's not something I'm too concerned about."

Worth noting
• New York third baseman Kelly Johnson did not start Friday against the Orioles with bruised fingers, but he could be available Saturday.

• In 13 Major League seasons with the Orioles, Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts collected 1,452 hits. It was fitting, then, that his 1,500th career base knock came against Baltimore on Friday. It was a single to right.

• Steve Pearce, who has been serving as the O's designated hitter of late, is hitting .400 with a 1.091 OPS this month. Comments