Game 134: Orioles (71-62) @ Yankees (71-63), 1:05

Patrick Smith

Times grow desperate for the Orioles, who aren't mathematically eliminated if they lose Saturday to the Yankees, but they might as well be. Scott Feldman is their starting pitcher today against Ivan Nova of New York, who has already thrown a complete game against the O's this season.

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There is a lot of baseball left, as the cliche goes, but if the Orioles don't start winning a lot more of the right now baseball games, then the baseball that's left to play isn't going to matter very much. They've been teetering on the brink of this point for some time now, and a series loss to the Yankees would send them possibly screaming into the abyss. Not the abyss of 90+ losses, just no playoffs. Still sucks compared to last year.

The firewall against this dire fate is... Scott Feldman? Oh, geez. If his grounder tendencies are working, he could do fine even in the confines of Yankee Stadium. If he's not it could be another long afternoon.

Starting for the Yankees is Ivan Nova, who's already dropped a complete game on the Orioles once this season. He is pitching well, or at least getting good results, a 3.14 ERA in 100.1 innings despite a 1.34 WHIP. This may be due to the fact that batters have a .334 average against him on balls in play, which is higher than you will tend to see in any successful pitcher. However, he strikes out just shy of a batter per inning this season, has a modest walk rate, and has only allowed five home runs in all of those innings.

Add that to a ground ball rate that's over 50% and it's not a shock that he is successful. This is a new version of Nova this year. I don't know what's new about him beyond his results being a lot better, but something is new. So the batter-pitcher matchups from years past may not apply as much. We hope they do, at least in the case of Matt Wieters, who has four home runs off of Nova in 27 plate appearances. Chris Davis has a pair of home runs in 20 plate appearances. Even the desert-dry bat of Nick Markakis has an OPS over 1.000 against Nova in 33 career plate appearances.

If the starter pitches well, they should have a good chance to win. If not, they won't. This is true every game. Perhaps today they will be on the correct side of the ledger.

Nate McLouth (L) - LF Brett Gardner (L) - CF
Manny Machado (R) - 3B Derek Jeter (R) - SS
Chris Davis (L) - 1B Robinson Cano (L) - 2B
Adam Jones (R) - CF Alfonso Soriano (R) - DH
Matt Wieters (S) - C Alex Rodriguez (R) - 3B
Nick Markakis (L) - RF Curtis Granderson (L) - LF
J.J. Hardy (R) - SS Mark Reynolds (R) - 1B
Wilson Betemit (S) - DH Ichiro Suzuki (L) - RF
Brian Roberts (S) - 2B Chris Stewart (R) - C

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