NEW YORK - Not to heap any pressure on Scott Feldman today, but he's got to register a quality start against the Yankees. He's got to give the Orioles innings - good ones - and hand a late lead to the bullpen.
He's got to be a stopper.
He's got to stop the Yankees from moving into third place in the American League East, which will happen if the Orioles lose today.
But no pressure.
The Orioles' rotation has allowed 18 runs in 20 innings over the first four games of this all-important road trip. To be fair, 15 of those runs were charged to Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, who combined for 7 2/3 innings.
Bud Norris worked 5 1/3 innings Wednesday night in Boston, but he gave up only one run. Chris Tillman was ace-like the following night, allowing two runs in seven innings, with no walks and eight strikeouts.
Feldman hasn't lasted more than 5 1/3 innings in four of his last five starts. To be fair (again), he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in his last three outings.
Feldman has issued eight walks in those three starts covering 17 innings. He's thrown 109, 101 and 102 pitches. The Orioles need him to be economical today. Good and economical.
But no pressure.
Feldman is 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three road starts with the Orioles. He's 3-3 with a 4.78 ERA in eight career games (six starts) against the Yankees. He's allowed 10 earned runs in 20 1/3 innings in four starts in the Bronx.
The current batch of Yankees are batting .348 with nine home runs against Feldman. Vernon Wells is 7-for-14 with a triple and two home runs. Derek Jeter is 6-for-16 with two homers. Curtis Granderson is 5-for-11 with a double, three homers and seven RBIs. Former Oriole Mark Reynolds is 4-for-6 with a home run.
But no pressure.
Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland was charged with a run last night after leaving the game. He's been scored upon in seven consecutive outings since July 28, the longest streak by an Orioles reliever since Brian Burres from Aug. 25-Sept. 7, 2007.
Danny Valencia extended his hitting streak to five games last night. He's got 11 hits in his last 18 at-bats, with four doubles, two homers and five RBIs. And he may be optioned today to make room for Michael Morse. As manager Buck Showalter likes to say, we'll see.
Valencia joined the chorus of Orioles last night who stressed the importance of putting these losses behind them, of not caring if outsiders have given up on them.
"We have to keep playing our game, stay focused on what we're doing, play game by game," he said. "We've been having good at-bats, but when we've pitched well, it seems like we haven't hit the past couple of days. I think we'll be all right. The team's good. We don't get too down on ourselves, so tomorrow's a new day.
"We still have a full month left. A lot can happen. We're going to come back tomorrow and try to win. We want to win every game we play in. You can't dwell on it too long. We have a game tomorrow and that's what we're focused on.
"We're a confident team. We believe in ourselves here. Last year, they had a great year and this year we've done well. I don't think we should be down at all, and the mindset here is that we just continue to play hard. I like our chances. If we do our thing and continue to play good baseball, we'll have a good chance at the end.
"We're playing our division. We're playing guys who we're battling for our division and the wild card. Every game means something. It seems like an emotional roller coaster when you're playing these games, lots of ups and downs, but we just have to keep playing good baseball."
"I don't know if there's a recipe," said Nate McLouth. "You just go out and play well. There's nothing else to do. We haven't done that as consistently as we'd like to, really, all year. You talk about the winning streak, or the lack thereof. It tells the story right there. We're not going to throw in the towel. We'll be right there."