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Orioles vs. Yankees: Series Preview

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The Yankees come to town as the Orioles look to keep their winning streak going and gain more ground against the division leading Yankees.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far:

The Orioles are riding pretty high right now. They've won four in a row and six of their last seven. Matt Wieters is back and it looks like he hasn't lost a step after more than year off. The infield is finally clicking like it used to with Ryan Flaherty and J.J. Hardy healthy. Even Nolan Reimold is peforming well after being called up this week. They're four games back of the Yankees for the division lead. It's been a little frustrating seeing the Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays all get hot at the same as the O's, which has kept them from gaining more ground this week. But things are looking up.

I mentioned the Yankees are playing well also. They've won eight of their last ten by sweeping the Mariners and Angels and splitting a short series with the Nationals. And unlike the last couple years when they hung in there despite poor pythagorean records, this team seems to be legit - their run differential is +34. I don't have any numbers to back this up, but from I've seen it seems like they're finding success with their plan to use a lot of left-handed hitters in a ballpark that favors left-handed power and against a division that has a lot of right-handed starters. I wouldn't have bet my season on guys like Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira, but its working so far. Some guy named Alex Rodriguez is playing well too.

Pitching Matchups:

Friday: Michael Pineda vs. Ubaldo Jimenez

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Jimenez

3-3

62.2

128

3.38

1.261

2.73

Pineda

7-2

70.1

117

2.40

1.166

10.86

Ubaldo Jimenez started off well this season, but has had trouble his last couple outings. It's very possible this a slow decline back to 2014 Ubaldo, but the Orioles can't really afford that right now. Michael Pineda has been dominant this season (look at that SO/W ratio - wow). Jimenez hasn't faced the Yankees yet this season, but is 2-4 with a 5.50 ERA lifetime against them. The Orioles have seen Pineda twice this year, once at home and once away. That first game wasn't so bad, they lost but got five runs off him. That second game though...Pineda struck out 16 Orioles en route to a 6-2 Yankees win. I'm confident that won't happen again, but it makes me nervous. The Orioles offense has been much better as of late though, so maybe it'll be a different story.

Saturday: TBA vs. C.C. Sabathia

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Norris

2-4

32.1

45

4.84

1.763

1.67

Sabathia

3-7

72

74

4.17

1.431

4.27

The Orioles haven't annouced (that I've seen) who will be starting Saturday night, but I'm putting Bud Norris in here because it would be his turn in the rotation. Considering the decent game he pitched on Sunday in his return, I think it's a good bet. Of course, Norris has given up seven earned runs in 8.1 innings of work against the Yankees this year over two starts. I suppose you can hope that was the old Norris and post-rehab Norris will be better.

Fortunately, Sabathia is a shell of his former self. He's had four consecutive starts of less than seven innings and has given up at least one earned run in every start this season. He still gets a decent number of strikeouts, but has given up 12 home runs on the year. The way the Orioles are hitting lately, that could be a problem (for him). Adam Jones has four homers in his career against Sabathia, and he's having a pretty good year so...

Sunday: TBA vs. Adam Warren

2015

W/L

IP

ERA+

FIP

WHIP

SO/W

Wright

2-1

24.1

131

4.67

1.027

4.00

Warren

4-4

64.1

107

4.66

1.197

1.73

The Orioles also have not announced a starter for Sunday, but since it would be Gonzalez's turn and he's on the DL, I'm going to assume Mike Wright gets the ball. Wright had two great starts and two not so great start during his time with the Orioles so far this season. He'll have a tough time against the Yankees...his numbers have definitely been worse against left-handed batters and the Yankees lineup is full of those.

Adam Warren has been nothing special. His lone start against the Orioles this year was during that four game series in the Bronx last month. The Yankees won but Warren didn't pitch very well - he only went 4.2 innings and gave up two runs. His problem lately has been the long ball - he's given one up in each of his last five starts. Again, if that's the problem he may be in trouble as the Orioles offense seems to have found some rhythm after that month long slump. That was a tough month.

Other Notes:

- If nothing else, at least the Orioles won't have to see Andrew Miller and be reminded of what they let walk away. He just went on the DL. This is of little comfort though, Dellin Betances is right there to step into the closer role. He's pretty good too.

- It's pretty unlikely the Orioles can sweep the Yankees also (as amazing as that would be), but even if they can get two of three, they'll be three games back of the Yankees. They were 3.5 games behind in the division after June 14th (when this series will be over) last year, so that would put things back on track. They'd also be at .500 again, which hasn't been true for more than a month.

- The Orioles defense has really turned around and this is one place they have clear advantage over the Yankees, who rate near the bottom of the AL in errors and fielding percentage.

Prediction:

So earlier this week I used a reversing jinx technique and predicted the Orioles to lose knowing I would be wrong and they would win the series...didn't predict that sweep though. For this weekend, I'm going to not make a prediction in hopes things will even out and I can get back to making smart, intelligent predictions (that will hopefully turn out to be right). And regardless of what happens this weekend, the O's follow this up with four games against the Phillies - if that doesn't turn out well we may have serious problems.