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BOS@NYY: Nova strikes out three in four innings

It's only the first week of the regular season, but a quick glance at the American League East standings might catch some folks by surprise.

After capping a season-opening sweep of the Twins on Sunday, the Orioles sit atop the division with the Rays and will look to improve to 4-0 for the second time in as many seasons on Monday night, when they welcome the Yankees to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The Yankees, meanwhile, will turn to Ivan Nova as they look to avoid just their third 0-4 start in franchise history and the first since 1973, when they finished 80-82. The only other time New York dropped each of its first four contests was in 1930.

Nova, a 25 year-old right-hander hoping to solidify a spot in the Yankees' rotation, is coming off a difficult Spring Training in which he allowed 20 earned runs in 22 1/3 innings, posting an 8.06 ERA.

"You can worry about it a little bit, but you can get fooled by Spring Training, too," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I'll try to evaluate him a little more after [Monday] and see where he's really at. And even that first start you try not to get too wrapped up in, because there are a lot of emotions that take place."

To counter Nova, the Orioles will be sending Brian Matusz to the mound. The 25-year-old southpaw went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA in 12 starts last season, but he pitched well enough this spring to earn the final spot in the Orioles' rotation.

"It's definitely a special start," Matusz said. "It's been a long road this offseason. This spring, to be able to fight back to being able to make the team and then do that, pitching the way I know how to pitch -- I'm excited to go out there and just pitch the game I love to play and just get back out there again."

Though Matusz was shelled to the tune of 11 runs in just 6 2/3 innings in his two starts against the Yanks last season, he said he's not concerned about which team is in the other dugout when it comes time to take the mound.

"All the teams are going to be good," Matusz said. "It doesn't matter if it's the Yankees, Red Sox, anybody. It's a big league lineup. I've prepared really hard this spring, this offseason, so I'm excited to face the Yankees right out of the gate."

Yankees: Pettitte set for next step
Left-hander Andy Pettitte, who could potentially take Nova's spot in the rotation, will make the first start of his comeback attempt on Monday for the Class A Advanced Tampa Yankees, Girardi said.

Pettitte, 39, will pitch against the Clearwater Threshers at 7 p.m. ET in Clearwater, Fla.

The southpaw pitched one scoreless inning for the Yanks in Grapefruit League play after signing a Minor League contract worth $2.5 million on March 16. He could be ready to pitch at the Major League level in May.

Orioles: Reynolds' injury not serious
Third baseman Mark Reynolds said he could have played on Sunday despite fouling a ball off his left calf Saturday night, but manager Buck Showalter chose to keep Reynolds out of the lineup for the series finale against the Twins.

"I'm well enough to play," Reynolds said when asked if he would be available to pinch-hit. "I'm fine."

Reynolds, who didn't have X-rays but said he had a pretty good bruise, was not called upon to pinch-hit in the Orioles' 3-1 victory. Showalter backed his infielder's claim about being able to play if needed, but the manager also added that he prefers to be cautious at this point in the season.

"With the DH being able to move around, we've got some interchangeable parts," said Showalter, who penciled in Wilson Betemit at third base. "[Resting Reynolds] is more about getting everybody on the field the first three days."

Worth noting
• Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are hitting a combined .415 (22-for-53) with 10 extra-base hits lifetime against Matusz.

• The Yankees have posted a 13-5 record against the Orioles in each of the past three seasons. Comments