From the beginning of their last series together, both the Orioles and the Yankees have played .500 baseball. That'll do to keep you in the periphery of the playoff picture. It won't get you into the playoffs.
In essence, the winner of this series gets to keep having playoff hopes and the loser of the series might as well pack it up and come back next year. They won't be mathematically eliminated, but they will be way farther out of the playoff chase than anyone should want to be.
All year, the Yankees were skating by with a hodge-podge collection of players while waiting for injured veterans to return. Derek Jeter is back. Alex Rodriguez is back. Rodriguez, in particular, is not doing terribly. Alfonso Soriano was acquired in trade and is enjoying a second-half renaissance because of course. That's the Yankees black magic at play.
Against this crew tonight is designated Yankee-beater Miguel Gonzalez. Why has he turned in the best games of his career at Yankee Stadium? I don't know why, but that's what he has done. If he continues to do so tonight, that will be a good sign for the O's. If not, well, you know.
O's hitters will be facing off against CC Sabathia, who has had his struggles this season. With a 4.81 ERA, that's a lot of struggling, but thanks to the vagaries of run support, he sports an 11-11 record on the year. Just for reference, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, the best pitcher in all the land, has 13 wins while having already thrown over 200 innings and sporting a sub-2.00 ERA.
Sabathia's presence means Sabathia-killer Alexi Casilla is in the lineup. That's not a joke. Normally a mainstay of the forfeit lineup (and with Taylor Teagarden catching, that's even more of it), Casilla has a 1.167 OPS in 30 plate appearances against Sabathia. That's 16-30 with three doubles. How does that even happen? I don't know that either, but it does.
Adam Jones has three home runs and J.J. Hardy has done well enough, but the rest of the team doesn't look so pretty. It's the latest important game. Maybe they'll show up looking like it's important, and maybe they'll fade into oblivion.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Nate McLouth (L) - LF||Brett Gardner (L) - CF|
|Manny Machado (R) - 3B||Derek Jeter (R) - SS|
|Adam Jones (R) - CF||Robinson Cano (L) - 2B|
|Chris Davis (L) - 1B||Alfonso Soriano (R) - LF|
|J.J. Hardy (R) - SS||Alex Rodriguez (R) - 3B|
|Nick Markakis (L) - RF||Curtis Granderson (L) - DH|
|Danny Valencia (R) - DH||Mark Reynolds (R) - 1B|
|Alexi Casilla (S) - 2B||Ichiro Suzuki (L) - RF|
|Taylor Teagarden (R) - C||Austin Romine (R) - C|