Series Preview: Orioles @ Yankees, 20 - 22 June

A return to first place would certainly be something to celebrate.... - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Following a series win vs. Tampa, the O's head up the east coast for a weekend set with the New York Yankees.

Friday, 20 June (7:05pm) - Ubaldo Jimenez @ Hiroki Kuroda
2014 Stats Jimenez (2-8)
Kuroda (4-5)
IP 76.0 83.1
ERA 4.86 4.32
FIP 4.73 3.96
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .246/.356/.373 .262/.305/.425

Game notes: Jimenez has struggled to a 2-8 record this season with Baltimore, but he is coming off of a quality start in his last appearance.  Lefties continue to trouble the 30 year old righty, as he's walked 31 of them and struck out only 29.  Additionally, he's walked 5 batters in 3 of his last 5 starts.  Can he improve against the Yankees?

A reason to watch: Another huge divisional series for the Orioles.  Toronto still leads the AL East, but the Yankees are just 1.5 games back and the Orioles an additional game behind them.  A good weekend for the Orioles could see them up to the top of the division.

Scouting report: Kuroda might not be putting up the numbers he has in seasons past, but he's been heating up in the month of June.  As the season toils on, Kuroda's numbers have gradually improved - he's allowing just a .543 OPS in June.  Kuroda utilizes a solid sinker/splitter/slider combo, even if he's lost a little velocity.  The splitter and slider are usually plus pitches.  A lefty heavy lineup might be beneficial as the LHB OBP against Kuroda is 40 points higher.

Maybe hot: Chris Davis (.609 SLG, .905 OPS, 27 PA), Nick Markakis (.364/.364/.591 slash line, 22 PA)

Maybe not: J.J. Hardy (.417 OPS, 24 PA)

Saturday, 21 June (1:05pm) - Bud Norris vs. Vidal Nuno
2014 Stats Norris (6-5)
Nuno (1-3)
IP 82.0 61.1
ERA 3.73 5.90
FIP 4.43 5.17
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .232/.313/.378 .286/.342/.506

Game notes: Game is a 1:05pm - an earlier start than the O's usually see on Saturday, but it might help them get the game in if there's any rain.  Bud Norris will pitch against Vidal Nuno.  Norris has allowed just 1 ER in his last 15 innings.

A reason to watch: Well, it's a soft-tossing lefty so the chances of a no hitter seem pretty high, but Bud Norris is coming off of back-to-back quality starts.  Watching him pitch has been far more enjoyable than predicted at the start of the season.

Scouting report: Nuno is a former Cleveland Indians draft pick who makes occasional starts/bullpen appearances for the Yankees after three years in the NY organization.  The soft-tossing lefty splits between a four seam and two seam fastball, combined with a slider and curve.  His velocity tops out in the low 90s, but generally sits around 88MPH.  The four seamer has been his best pitch thus far - the slider has been the exact opposite (1.122 OPS against).

Sunday, 22 June (2:05pm) - Chris Tillman vs. Masahiro Tanaka
2014 Stats Tillman (5-4)
Tanaka (11-1)
IP 84.0 99.2
ERA 4.82 1.99
FIP 4.61 2.69
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .266/.340/.432 .214/.253/.347

Game notes: Tillman vs. Tanaka.  Who will own it?  Tillman has been up and down, but the last two starts (13 innings) have been up.  Can he match Tanaka?

A reason to watch: Best pitching matchup of the series.  It's hard to like things about a division rival, but Tanaka has been pretty fun to watch - he's a strikeout machine.

Scouting report: Tanaka has faced the Orioles once and posted a quality start (which included 10K).  He's been virtually unhittable against most teams.  His arsenal is exceptional - he throws a ton of different pitch types, but relies heavily on a splitter/slider combo, which has been plain devastating.  Tanaka posts a 30.1% swinging strike rate on the splitter.  He's a solid low-90s arm, but can dial it up to around 95 when he needs to.

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