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NYY@LAA: Sabathia fans six over eight strong frames

For a team that sits six games above .500, the Yankees sure have a lot of moving parts and sideshows.

The Yanks will commence a three-game series against the Orioles at Camden Yards on Friday, with much of the discussion surrounding the team and the players who will not be on the trip.

Texas limited New York's patchwork lineup to zero runs on two hits in Thursday's rubber match at Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, All-Stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson continue their recoveries from their respective injuries at the team's complex in Tampa, Fla. First baseman Mark Teixeira is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his right wrist.

Manager Joe Girardi tried to provide some clarity to Rodriguez's ever-changing situation.

"From everything that I understand, he's been making progress, moving better day after day, so it sounds like things are pretty good," Girardi said.

Jeter, still rehabbing his surgically repaired ankle, stressed Thursday that A-Rod has not been a distraction to the team.

"Why would he be a distraction?" Jeter said. "You guys [in the media] may be a distraction to him if you ask him questions, but I've never seen how someone can be a distraction to a team, you know what I mean? Because we don't have to deal with it.

"As far as [reporters] being a distraction to him, I'm sure he probably gets tired of answering questions. There's no way he can be a distraction to us."

The Yankees' shorthanded lineup has placed more pressure on the club's pitchers to perform. Phil Hughes stepped up on Thursday, when he delivered an eight-inning effort in which he allowed only two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking one.

On Friday, ace CC Sabathia will take the mound; originally announced starter David Phelps will start on Saturday. Sabathia is 3-1 in June, but has done so with a lackluster 5.10 ERA.

The second-place Orioles have a one-game lead on the Yankees in the American League East, with both teams staring up at the Red Sox in the standings. Baltimore has dropped five of its past seven games.

Right-hander Kevin Gausman was expected to make Friday's start, but the Orioles will instead call on long reliever T.J. McFarland.

The game will mark McFarland's first Major League start. He's made 18 appearances out of the Orioles bullpen this season, going 1-0 with a 4.14 ERA.

His longest outing of the season came on Sunday against the Blue Jays, with the left-hander coming into the game in the third inning and allowing five runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.

The Orioles selected McFarland from the Indians in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft.

Yankees: Almonte impressing skipper
Girardi has no plans to sit rookie Zoilo Almonte.

"We're running Z out there," Girardi said. "He's played pretty well; we'll continue to do that. We'll continue to watch what he's doing. But he's played very well."

Almonte went hitless in 10 at-bats during the series against Texas. However, he still totes a .318 batting average (7-for-22), a .400 on-base percentage and a .545 slugging percentage through the first eight games of his career.

Orioles: Roberts could return Friday
Brian Roberts continued his rehab with Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday and will likely rejoin the Orioles as early as Friday.

"We have a chance to see Brian sometime over the weekend," Showalter said. "He's progressing well."

Showalter spoke with Roberts after Wednesday night's game, in which he walked in both plate appearances, and said that the infielder's pending return doesn't necessarily mean Ryan Flaherty's and Alexi Casilla's roster spots are in jeopardy.

All three made the club's Opening Day roster, with Flaherty assuming the bulk of the time at second base when Roberts landed on the disabled list.

Worth noting
• Orioles closer Jim Johnson has rattled off 12 consecutive saves in 14 appearances since blowing four saves in five chances. He's given up just one earned run in that span.

• Outfielder Brett Gardner has appeared in all 78 games for the Yankees this season. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning on Thursday to keep his streak alive.

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