On this episode of the Yanks Go Yard Series Preview Show (recorded on Wednesday night), I started off the show by discussing my thoughts on the New York Yankees’ first two games against the Toronto Blue Jays. Overall, the team had some solid starting pitching in this three-game sweep of the Jays as Masahiro Tanaka, Chase Whitley, and David Phelps all put up solid outings. This series also saw Brian McCann break out with a home run and five RBI in Wednesday night’s win. Brett Gardner was another offensive star, as he recorded six hits in 12 at-bats over the course of these three games. The Blue Jays have now lost 16 straight games at Yankee Stadium and the sweep pulls the Yankees (38-33),within 1.5 games of Toronto in the AL East as they head into this weekend’s home series against another AL East team who is very much in the division race.
The Baltimore Orioles (37-34) come into this series just 2.5 games behind the Jays after winning the final two games of their road series against the Tampa Bay Rays. This week has not been all great for the O’s, considering that they found out on Monday that catcher Matt Wieters will be out the rest of the season due to Tommy John surgery, leaving Baltimore with a huge hole at catcher. Even without Wieters for all but 26 games this year, the team is hitting .262 (fourth in MLB), is seventh in slugging percentage, and fourth in home runs (78). 22 of those home runs have come from Nelson Cruz, who is making the most of the one-year, $8 million contract he got late in the off-season.
As for the starting pitching, they have been a disappointment as the leader in wins in the rotation is seven by Wei-Yin Chen. Ubaldo Jimenez, Friday’s starter, comes into that game with a 2-8 record and 45 walks on the season. Kevin Gausman has made a big impact in the rotation as he has won his last three starts, giving up just two runs in his last 19 innings of work. Buck Showalter has also seen a new closer emerge as Zach Britton has taken the role from Tommy Hunter and has saved nine games in ten chances.
For this episode, I spoke with Avi Miller from the Baltimore Sports Report about Cruz’s hot start, the potential need for another catcher at the deadline, and much more. Here are the other topics I touched on during the show, which include Old Timer’s Day this Sunday and a mentioning of the plaques out in Monument Park this weekend that will be put up for Tino Martinez and Rich Gossage:
- Cruz’s power away from Camden Yards (15 of his 22 HR’s on the road)
- Ubaldo Jimenez with four or more walks in his last three starts
- Hiroki Kuroda looking to rebound on Friday after a mediocre start in Oakland
- Kuroda’s success when inducing ground ball outs to opposing hitters
- Bud Norris (Saturday’s O’s starter) leading the starter in ERA (3.73)
- Vidal Nuno (Saturday’s Yankees’ starter) not giving any length in his last three starts
- Why Nuno’s bullpen appearance vs. Baltimore on April 8th gives no impression he will do well on Saturday
- Chris Tillman‘s (Sunday’s O’s starter) interesting home/road splits
- Tanaka looking for his 12th win on Sunday vs. Orioles
- Adam Jones‘s red hot June for Baltimore (.313, six home runs, 14 RBI’s)
- Baltimore’s Players To Watch (Avi: Steve Pearce and J.J. Hardy, Ricky: Nick Markakis)
- Yankees’ Players To Watch: Jacoby Ellsbury and Yangervis Solarte
- Zach Britton shining in the closer role for Baltimore