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Orioles-Yankees series preview: A chance to make up ground in the AL East

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The Orioles haven’t been playing very good baseball, but a key opportunity to turn things around awaits this week against the AL East leaders.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re disappointed with the way the Orioles have played over the past two weeks, you aren’t alone. The morale around Birdland is rather low right now, rightfully so. The team hasn’t played very good baseball recently, and the only thing that exists in the minds of those of us watching is the same question — will the Orioles ever win again?

While not mathematically impossible, this team won’t lose every single game the rest of the way in 2017. There will be wins. How many of those is still left to be seen, but alas the Orioles aren’t on a never-ending skid. Things have been bad, but the season is plenty salvageable and things will be steered in the right direction at some point.

If the Birds are ready, that journey back to the top of the AL East can begin tonight against a Yankees team that, if swept, will only be 1.5 games ahead of the O’s for the division lead. It’s a long shot — but this is baseball, and this is Buck Showalter’s team. Anything can happen.

Below, a look at what to watch for as Joe Girardi’s team invades Camden Yards.

Game 1 - Dylan Bundy (2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) vs. Jordan Montgomery (4.30 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Today’s matchup presents as good of an opportunity as any to get back on track and into the win column. Sending your ace to the mound isn’t the worst recipe for success against a surging first-place team — it’ll be a chance for Bundy to break the streak and right the ship for the entire ball club.

The Yankees have been a bit of a thorn in Bundy’s side during his young career with the Orioles, but the sample size has been small. The current NYY lineup is 10-35 against the right-hander, working a .390 on-base percentage against him in limited plate appearances.

Jordan Montgomery faced the Orioles on April 30, posting a very average game. He allowed just three hits and struck out seven over five innings, but he walked four to give up a total of three earned runs.

Montgomery has been a strikeout-heavy arm during his short time in the big-leagues (43 Ks in 46 IP), so don’t expect this afternoon to be a deviation from the strikeout-heavy performances.

Game 2 - Chris Tillman (4.43 ERA, 1.67 WHIP) vs. Luis Severino (3.11 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)

It’s difficult to know where Tillman’s health and ability to return to form stand right now, especially considering the up-and-down nature of his four starts in 2017. He’s been average against the Yankees throughout his career, seeing the current roster go hit .272 with just 1 HR in 103 ABs.

If you like past batter/pitcher battles as an indicator of what could happen in the future, you’ll want to watch Tillman’s matchups against Didi Gregorius on Tuesday night. The Yankees SS is 8-16 with five XBHs against Tillman throughout his career, and this year he’s hitting .311 in 106 ABs.

The 23-year-old Severino has seen the Orioles quite a bit and has fared rather well in terms of head-to-head matchups. His first start of the year at Camden Yards however didn’t fall in his favor, as he lasted just five innings with six hits and four earned runs against.

While Chris Davis is just 1-10 with 5 Ks against Severino, Manny Machado has a 4-11 with three HRs including a three-run shot earlier this year.

Game 3 - Kevin Gausman (6.17 ERA, 1.77 WHIP) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (5.86 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)

Neither of these starters have performed particularly well this year, however both got back on track in grand fashion in their previous outings.

Gausman didn’t walk any Astros as he worked into the seventh inning on Friday, allowing just two earned runs on a pair of solo shots. His stuff looked crisp and much more Gausman-like, hopefully a turn of the corner following a very shaky early-season performance.

Of course, the Yankees have already seen the right-hander twice in 2017, collecting 16 hits in 10.2 innings and scoring nine earned runs through those two outings.

Tanaka twirled an absolute gem on Friday as well — he worked 7.1 innings on one-run ball, striking out 13 batters in the process. However in both of his two starts before that, he couldn’t make it through three innings, allowing a total of 14 earned runs against the Astros and Rays.

On April 8th, the right-hander allowed three runs over five innings against the O’s at Camden Yards, walking four and surrendering six hits.

Tanaka has held the Orioles roster to a .211 average against in 111 at-bats, while the Yankees have hit .274 against Gausman over his career.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Yankees?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    3
    (22 votes)
  • 23%
    2
    (46 votes)
  • 39%
    1
    (77 votes)
  • 25%
    0
    (50 votes)
195 votes total Vote Now