After dropping two of three to the Texas Rangers (and their first series of the year), the Orioles are heading up I-95 for a three-game set versus the New York Yankees. Even after two straight losses, the Orioles sit atop the AL East (thanks to the Boston Red Sox stealing their first two wins of the season) and have moved up to the seventh spot in the Power Rankings. The pitching (outside of Jake Arrieta and Chris Jakubauskas) was very good, but the bats failed to show. This is something that must change for the Orioles to continue winning games. Andrew_G has noted that the Orioles currently sport a .243 BABIP (batting average of balls in play), which suggests that the team is getting somewhat unlucky and should improve over a larger sample. Phew! That’s good news considering that the top regular in the lineup is Vladimir Guerrero with 10 hits and a .270 BA. In any case, nobody is getting on base and that has to get turned around. Derrek Lee seemed to be making much better contact this weekend, but guys like Luke Scott, Matt Wieters, and Adam Jones need to get it going. The O’s will also be returning to the Robert Andino/Cesar Izturis tandem at SS that we all came to know and love last season which cannot help the cause.
The Yankees, on the other hand, will be looking to avenge two losses to the Red Sox over the weekend with a solid series back at home. Considering that they dropped two to Boston and then watched the Red Sox promptly get hammered by the other 1 win team (on national TV, no less), expect they’ll be ready to go. The Yankees will throw the middle of their rotation, so the Orioles will not face CC Sabathia. It’ll be another tough test for the pitchers, as the Yankees have produced 50 runs, tops in the division. Andrew_G also notes that the Orioles pitchers have allowed a .232 BABIP, which is bound to drift back toward the league average. There is significant rain in the forecast (1-2 rainouts possible) which might force some shuffling in the Orioles rotation. Brad Bergesen did not make his scheduled start for the Norfolk Tides this week and should be back with the team after J.J. Hardy is sent to the DL. A bench player (likely by the name of your favorite french fry substitute) is also expected to be added to roster. Bergy will make the start Wednesday and will be an upgrade (yes, you read that correctly) over Jakubauskas. Jake Arrieta will close out the series and must rebound from Saturday’s effort where he allowed 8 ER in just 3.1 innings.
Game 1 (Tuesday @ 7:05pm):
BAL – Chris Tillman (0-0, 3.38 ERA)
NYY – A.J. Burnett (2-0, 4.09 ERA)
Burnett relies mostly on a fastball/sinker combo to go along with his curveball. Fastball velocity generally around 92-93 and the changeup drops to the upper 80s. Strikeout numbers were down last season (6.99 K/9 from 8.48), but have been solid in two starts this season. Keeps the curveball down and away for hitters on both sides of the plate (really down and away to righties).
Cesar Izturis is a career 4 for 12 off of Burnett. Adam Jones has had similar success, going 4-13. Luke Scott and Matt Wieters have not shared that same success (Wieters is hitless in 12 ABs). Chris Tillman has won his only start at Yankee Stadium, but did so while posting a 7.20 ERA. Alex Rodriguez is a threat with a .500 BA and the only Yankee HR of Tillman. Robinson Cano is 6 for 7.
Game 2 (Wednesday @ 7:05pm):
BAL – Brad Bergesen (0-1, 4.91 ERA)
NYY – Phil Hughes (0-1, 16.50 ERA)
Hughes throws a fastball, cutter, and curveball. Velocity is down about 2-3 MPH on all three pitches this season so he’s throwing the cutter much more frequently. Posted decent strikeout numbers last season, but had just one in his first 2011 start. Likes the left side of the plate (from the pitcher’s prospective) with the cutter, coming in on lefties, but staying away from right-handed hitters.
Hughes has good numbers against the Orioles, but he’s one guy that Luke Scott can hit. In 13 ABs, Luke has 7 hits for a .538 BA. Neither Derek Jeter nor Mark Teixeira have hits off of Bergesen. The rest of the lineup, however, has hit him fairly well. Oddly enough, Joey Gathright (he who can jump a car) is 3-3 with a double and 3 SB in his career against Hughes…..
Game 3 (Thursday @ 7:05pm)
BAL – Jake Arrieta (1-1, 8.68 ERA)
NYY – Ivan Nova (1-0, 6.10 ERA)
Throws three pitches, but sticks mostly to a low 90s fastball that he keeps away. Did not throw the curveball much to the righties in his first start this season. Was throwing the mid 80s changeup primarily against the lefties last year, but utilized it more often to righties this season.
Derek Jeter has not hit the fastball well this season (pitchers have responded well by throwing limited breaking stuff). That’s good news for Jake Arrieta who sports a good mid 90s fastball. Arrieta has not allowed a HR to a Yankee batter, albeit in very limited action. Matt Wieters has the lone Oriole HR off of Nova while Felix Pie is 0-3 with 2Ks.