For this episode of the Yanks Go Yard Series Preview Show, brought to you by Knoda.com, I started off the show by talking about a deflating end to the New York Yankees’ homestand. For the second time since the All-Star break, the Yankees ended an extended hitting streak on a deflating note by losing the final two games. This past weekend, it was the Cleveland Indians that were able to win the series in the last two games with the help of excellent pitching. The Tribe held the Yankees to one run in the final 18 innings with the lone run coming on a Jacoby Ellsbury home run in the ninth inning on Sunday.
With the exception of a five-run first inning and a Carlos Beltran grand slam on Friday, there wasn’t much life in the Yankees’ bats in this series. It did not help Joe Girardi‘s team that catcher Brian McCann was placed on the seven-day disabled list due to a concussion that he got during Friday’s win. Friday was also the last rehab outing for starting pitcher Michael Pineda. Now, the team will decide whether or not Pineda will be back for the Yankees on Wednesday or will they give him one more start in the minors?
Now that the homestand is over, the New York Yankees (61-56) get set for a six-game road trip with all of their games coming against AL East opponents. First up on this road trip is the Baltimore Orioles (67-50), a team that has defeated the Yanks in six of their nine meetings and a team they will see ten times over the final 43 games of the season. With the Bronx Bombers six games back in the AL East, every game becomes crucial in determining whether the division title is a reasonable option or if the team should put all their hopes for the Wild Card (2.5 games back of the Royals).
The Orioles have been playing some great baseball since the All-Star break, going 15-8 over the stretch of the last 23 games. One of the main reasons for that success has been their starting pitching. Since the break, the team has posted a 3.03 ERA, including a 3.15 ERA from their starters (according to Baseball Reference). One of the main keys to the rotation’s success is Wednesday’s starter, Chris Tillman. In two starts this month, Tillman has an ERA of 1.32 in two starts this month and has only one loss since June 22.
As for the offense, it broke out against the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend. In their series win over St. Louis, the team hit nine home runs. One of those came from Nelson Cruz. Cruz, who has 30 home runs on the season, is hitting .138 since the All-Star Game. Even with Cruz’s struggles, the team maintains a top ten ranking in runs and batting average, top five in slugging percentage, and leads the majors in home runs with 147. One of the surprises for Baltimore is catcher Caleb Joseph. The 28-year-old catcher (who is replacing Matt Wieters) has a home run in five of his last six games.
On this episode, I spoke with Domenic Vadala, the editor of Birds Watcher, to get his first impression on Baltimore’s success since the All-Star break as well as his thoughts on the team’s trade with the Red Sox for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller at the trade deadline. Here are some of the topics we discussed on this show:
- Is Nelson Cruz‘s slump still a cause for concern for Orioles’ fans?
- Pitching Matchup Breakdown
- Bud Norris (Monday’s O’s starter) with some great numbers for Baltimore since the All-Star Break (2.63 ERA in four starts)
- Chris Capuano‘s (Monday’s Yanks’ starter) increasing his pitch count every start
- Wei-Yin Chen (Tuesday’s O’s starter) taking the next step up in Buck Showalter‘s rotation
- Shane Greene (Tuesday’s Yanks’ starter) trying to build off his dominance against Baltimore back in July
- Chris Tillman cutting down on his walks in his last five outings (five combined walks)
- Who should the Yankees start on Wednesday: Esmil Rogers or Michael Pineda?
- Orioles’ Players To Watch (Domenic: Caleb Joseph and Delmon Young, Ricky: Nick Markakis and Manny Machado)
- Yankees’ Players To Watch: Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner
- Biggest threat to the Orioles in the division: Blue Jays or Yankees?