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TOR@BAL: Matusz delivers six strong frames in O's win

The Yankees may not have expected so many obstacles in their path to the top of the American League East, but they're prepared to drive around them. New York will have a chance to pull ahead of the surprising second-place Orioles on Tuesday, and manager Joe Girardi can understand his opponent's success.

"I think it's because they've pitched a lot better," Girardi said. "Two of the games we played there, we could've lost both of those. They were tight games. So I think they're an improved team. They're athletic. Nolan Reimold has played extremely well for them; that's a player we thought a lot of when he first came up. [But] I think the big thing is they have pitched a lot better than they have in the past."

The Yankees earned a 2-1 victory in Monday's series opener, and they'll trail Baltimore by a half-game when Tuesday's game begins. The two teams will have something in common in the middle act of this three-game set, as they'll both start pitchers who are trying to rebound from adversity.

New York will go with Phil Hughes -- who's gone 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA this season -- and the Orioles will counter with Brian Matusz, the fourth overall selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Matusz threw six innings and allowed two runs in his last start, a no-decision, after taking three losses to start the season.

"Each outing has gotten a little bit better, so I hope that continues tomorrow," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "But a lot of things happen between that last outing and going out there to pitch. So I'm looking forward to seeing if Brian can continue the upward movement he's making."

The Yankees are now 4-0 against the Orioles this season, and they're 43-15 against Baltimore since the beginning of the 2009 campaign. New York has gotten the best of the O's in the season series for 14 consecutive seasons, and Girardi is pleased with his team after one month.

"We've found ways to win games, which we did a lot last year," Girardi said. "We've pitched as well as we're capable of. I think our bullpen has been outstanding. We've scored runs. ... Looking forward, we have to improve in our starting pitching. I believe the talent is in the room; it just needs to get better."

Orioles: Reimold targets new streak
Reimold was held hitless by the Yankees on Monday night, ending his 14-game hitting streak, but he provided the Orioles with some much-needed offense in the season's first month. Baltimore's left fielder is batting .313 with five homers this season after batting .247 with 13 homers last year.

Reimold, a former second-round draftee, has done most of his damage on the road this season. The 28-year-old is hitting .414 (12-for-29) away from Camden Yards, and he has earned Girardi's respect by batting .296 with six homers in 33 career games against the Yankees.

Yankees: April kind to Jeter
Leadoff man Derek Jeter had a torrid opening month, setting a personal best for hits (37) in April and leading all AL players in that category. The shortstop will go into May with a .389 batting average, and he's just 16 hits from tying Tony Gwynn (3,141) for 17th place all time.

Jeter has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games, and he's driven in at least one run in 10 of his first 22 games. He's one RBI from tying Bill Dickey for seventh place in franchise history.

Worth noting
• Fourteen of New York's next 22 games will be played at Yankee Stadium.

• Showalter is one victory away from No. 1,000 in his managing career.

• Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson tied a franchise record by homering seven times in his first 10 home games.

• The Yankees have homered in 13 of their last 14 games, and they lead all big league teams with 37 home runs this season.

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