When one of the best teams in baseball comes into town against one of the worst teams in baseball, the result is somewhat predictable. The Yankees are currently second in the AL East with a 12-6 record and the O’s are in dead last with a 3-16 mark. Nothing has gone right for the O’s this season. When you combine the numerous injuries to key players with a lineup that can’t consistently score with runners in scoring position and a bullpen that can’t hold a lead, you get a team with the worst record in baseball, our beloved Orioles.
The defending world champs dominated this series last year, going 13-5 against the O’s. More of the same is expected this season. You would think the O’s would have somewhat of an edge in this three-game series because they are playing at home. Considering the O’s are 0-6 at home this season and the Yankees having a winning mark (7-5) on the road, that home-field advantage is anything but an advantage.
The only thing going for the O’s is that the Yankees are coming off a six-game west coast road trip with the Athletics and Angels. They went 3-3 on the trip, taking two of three from the A’s and losing two of three at the Angels. The O’s are coming off an impressive 7-6 win in Fenway where they battled back late in the game to tie it at four, then took the lead for good with three runs in 10th.
In the first game of the series that begins tonight, the O’s will send Kevin Millwood (0-3, 3.83 ERA) to the mound against Phil Hughes (2-0, 2.19). Millwood has the lowest ERA among the O’s starting pitchers, but has no wins to show for it because of his lack of run support. Hughes, on the other hand, has been extremely impressive this season, especially in his last outing where he pitched 7.1 innings, allowing one hit and one earned run while striking out 10 and only walking two.
The second game of the series will feature last season’s opening day matchup between Jeremy Guthrie (0-2, 3.46) and C.C. Sabathia (2-1, 3.00). The O’s roughed up Sabathia in his first start as a Yankee last season, as he gave up eight hits, six earned runs, walked five and struck out none in just over four innings of work. Guthrie earned the win in that game, going six innings and only allowing three runs. Guthrie is another victim of low run support this season and has pitched well enough to win in all of his starts. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his four starts going at least six innings in each of them.
The final game of the series will feature Brian Matusz (2-0, 4.38) against A.J. Burnett (2-0, 3.20). Matusz pitched a gem in his only start against the Yankees last year. In the winning effort, he allowed four hits and just one earned run over seven innings in the Bronx. Burnett went 2-1 with a 5.84 ERA against the O’s last season, with the O’s hitting .294 off him. Out of the three games in this series, I’m most anxious to see this one. I think Matusz is going to be the ace of this staff in the next couple years and I always like to see how he does when he faces elite teams.
The bottom line is that the Yankees have the edge in virtually every statistical category. Their starting pitchers have a combined 6-1 record to the O’s 2-5 mark, which has a lot to do with little run support from the O’s bats. The Yankees are hitting .265 as a team this season compared to the O’s, who are batting .244. I would be surprised if the O’s can steal more than one win from the Yankees in this series. But let’s hope the bats come alive and they can build off the momentum from their extra inning win in Fenway on Sunday.