On Tuesday, weather permitting, the Yanks will welcome the first-place Orioles to town for a three-game set. The O’s won the last matchup, 4-3, in 11 innings on September 19 of last year but the Yanks won the three previous meetings. The Yanks also took the season series last year year, 13-5, while outscoring Baltimore 94-55 and haven’t lost a season series to B’more since 1997.
This year it’s another story though. The Yanks’ old friend Buck Showalter has the O’s playing some good ball so far and they’re sitting pretty at 6-3 atop the division, one game ahead of the Yanks and the Blue Jays. So it should be a good series.
My man Chris Raitzyk from Birds Watcher and I collaborated to do a series preview. Check it out after the jump:
AJ Burnett will take the bump against Chris Tillman in the opener, and he is 11-4 lifetime against the Birds in 18 games while holding O’s hitters to a .250/.318/.400 line with a 4.47 ERA in 118 2/3 IP. AJ has given up 113 hits, 60 runs (59 earned), 15 homers, 42 walks against 102 strikeouts for a 1.306 WHIP to their hitters over that span. Did I mention Burnett is 7-0 in 12 career starts in April as a Yankee?
Phil Hughes will get the nod in the second game against a TBA Baltimore pitcher. It’s no secret that Phil has been awful so far this season, his fastball is anything but fast and usually sits around 89 mph. He’s gotten smacked around in his two starts in 2011 and I wouldn’t be surprised if that trend continues. Hughes is 4-2 in 11 games (eight starts) against Baltimore while they’re hitting .300/.352/.417 against him. Whatever, this TBA guy is just as bad.
Ivan Nova will square off against Jake Arrieta in the finale. SuperNova had a quote unquote quality start in his first outing against the Twins, going six innings and giving up three runs on six hits for a win, but he got beaten up in his most recent start against the Red Sox. He’s faced the Orioles just once in his young career, and gave up six hits and two runs over six innings with six strikeouts to two walks. He didn’t get the win but those numbers are solid.
Russel Martin. He has a hit in every game but three this season and has caught every inning so far. Martin has three homers, eight RBI and two stolen bases on the year. I know it’s early but this kid can play.
Jorge Posada. He is 0-for-17 with eight strikeouts and no walks since his last home run on April 4.
Mark Teixeira. He is 0-for-18 with seven strikeouts since his last home run on April 5.
LHP Pedro Feliciano. 15-day DL – strained rotator cuff. Due back late April
C Francisco Cervelli. 15-day DL – broken foot. Due back early May
3B Alex Rodriguez. Day-to-day – flu. Probable
2B Reegie Corona. 60-day DL – fractured elbow. Due back late May
OF Colin Curtis. 60-day DL – dislocated shoulder. Due back in May
LHP Damaso Marte. 60-day DL – shoulder surgery. Due back sometime around All-Star break
We all know about starting pitcher Zach Britton and his 2-0 start and 0.66 ERA. But unfortunately, he won’t be pitching in this series. With the three starters who are working this series coming off short-inning, bad outings, the Orioles will need to rely on their bullpen. Luckily that includes Jason Berken, who has struck out seven in four innings of shutout ball. Also in the pen, Kevin Gregg and Koji Uehara have yet to give up any runs.
If any games turn into a slug-fest, the Orioles will be looking to their new slugger Vlad Guerrero. Guerrero had 4 hits in 12 at-bats in the Texas series and has raised his average to .270, after being below .200 for the first week of the season.
The top of the lineup. Nick Markakis DID have a leadoff homerun in Saturday’s game 1 win against the Ranger, but he is batting only .250 and has just 2 hits in his last 18 at-bats. Brian Roberts is doing even worse. After a hot start in Tampa, B-Rob has gone stone cold at the plate. He is batting just .189 in this early season and .211 on-base percentage – awful for a leadoff hitter.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy is going on the 15-day DL with a strained oblique muscle. Backup infielders Cesar Iztarus and Robert Andino will fill in. Hardy was starting to come around offensively, so losing his bat will hurt the Orioles. Defensively, there shouldn’t be a huge drop-off. Starting pitcher Brian Matusz is still on the DL with a strained left intercostal muscle. And Justin Duchscherer is still out with a lower-back injury.