The Yankees received news on Thursday that their ace, Masahiro Tanaka, will be out for at least six weeks with a partial tear to his ulnar collateral ligament. And if Tanaka does not respond properly to the rehab program, the team has not ruled out the possibility of Tommy John surgery, which would end his season and extend his recovery time to 12 to 18 months.
So the Yankees will send the lone healthy member from their Opening Day starting rotation, Hiroki Kuroda, to the mound for the series opener against the first-place Orioles in the final series before the All-Star break for both teams.
The Orioles enter Friday with a four-game lead over the third-place Yankees.
"If you have a good series in Baltimore, you go into the break and you're right in the middle of everything with 60-something games to go after that," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "What you want is an opportunity. You want an opportunity to win your division, and we continue to play well on this road trip, we're going to have that opportunity. Even if we don't, we still have a lot of games in our division. That's what you want, an opportunity."
Kuroda defeated the Orioles on April 7 in New York and took a no-decision on June 20 when he allowed two runs in six innings.
The Yankees have played 14 days in a row going into Friday's series opener, and are entering the final series of an 11-game road trip, in which they are 5-3.
The Orioles are 7-2 in July and will send right-hander Miguel Gonzalez to the mound, coming off his best performance of the season.
Gonzalez tied a career high with eight innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and striking out six, but ended up with a no-decision after the Red Sox won with a walk-off single in the ninth.
"I told myself not to do too much, stay aggressive, down in the zone, especially against a team like this that has a good lineup," Gonzalez said after the game. "We came up a little short. You can't do anything about that. It's baseball."
Yankees: Beltran placed on 7-day concussion DL
The Yankees placed outfielder Carlos Beltran on the seven-day concussion disabled list on Thursday, one day after a ball ricocheted off a protective "L-screen" in an indoor batting cage and struck him in the face.
"Obviously he had a concussion; he has the fractures in the nose, and we don't think it's going to require [surgery], but we've got to make sure," Girardi said. "We've got to get that checked out, so he went back to New York to make sure his nose is going to be OK. We just felt that it was probably best that he didn't play for a few days."
Yangervis Solarte was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Beltran's spot on the roster. Girardi indicated that Beltran is expected to return to the lineup on July 18, when the Yankees return from the All-Star break against the Reds in New York.
Orioles: Norris optioned to Minors
Right-hander Bud Norris has been optioned to Double-A Bowie in order to get in some extra work during the All-Star Break.
Norris returned from a stint on the disabled list to make a start Wednesday against the Nationals, so the team does not want to give him another extended break.
"Bud had, what, 17 days? Having another 11, 12 or 13 before his next start is something we'd like to stay away from," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's already had his All-Star break."
• The Yankees are unlikely to announce a starter for Sunday's game against the Orioles until Saturday, but there is a good chance the start will go to right-hander Chase Whitley, who pitched two innings in relief on Wednesday.
"I think it all depends on what happens the next few days," Girardi said. "[Pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] and I talked about it, we brought it up today, and he said, 'Let's just get through the next few days to determine what we're going to do.'"
• Derek Jeter recorded his 1,000th career multihit game on Thursday.
• Orioles right-hander Steve Johnson went two innings for short-season Aberdeen on Wednesday night and Showalter said they are still deciding whether Johnson will be starting or relieving in the Minors as he works his way back.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.