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Orioles-Yankees series preview: Hello again, Zach Britton

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A week after he was traded, the former O’s closer will be facing his old team with his new one. Awkward!

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

For those about to rock, we salute you.

It seems like just yesterday that the familiar AC/DC jam was blaring over the Camden Yards sound system, accompanying Zach Britton as he jogged in from the center field bullpen, ready to make mince meat of opposing hitters.

Well, it wasn’t yesterday, but it wasn’t far off. Britton last pitched for the Orioles just 10 days ago, and made his final appearance in Baltimore less than a week before that. Now, the lefty is set to pitch for the first time against the Orioles, the only organization he’d ever known in his first 12 professional seasons before last week’s trade to the Yankees.

In just two games with the Yankees, Britton has already been treated to the full New York experience. He brought a loud ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd in his debut, working a perfect inning with a strikeout. In his second outing, he gave up two hits and two walks — walking home the go-ahead run on four pitches — and was booed by his home fans. Welcome to the Bronx!

Britton may or may not make an appearance in this brief two-game series, but one Yankee who definitely won’t is Aaron Judge, who is out at least three weeks with a wrist fracture after being hit by a pitch last Thursday. The Orioles won’t be sorry to miss Judge, who owns a .331/.474/.719/1.193 line with 13 homers lifetime against them. Even without Judge, the Yankees’ lineup has plenty of pop, leading the majors with 167 homers (though only six since the All-Star break).

This is the Orioles’ first visit to Yankee Stadium since the first week of April, when the O’s took three out of four in a thrilling set to improve to 4-6 on the year. “The O’s are getting back on track!” we proclaimed then. Ah, how young and naive we were.

Game 1: Tuesday, 7:05 PM

RHP Yefry Ramirez (1-3, 3.49) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (8-2, 4.09)

Ramirez is pitching on the one-year anniversary of his acquisition by the Orioles, and pitching against the team they acquired him from. The O’s sent international bonus pool money to the Yankees for Ramirez last July 31. This is his second start against the Yankees; he gave up four runs and nine hits in four innings against them July 9, the worst of his five big league starts so far. Brett Gardner homered off him in that game. Ramirez has yet to pitch more than five innings in any major league game. Can he break that streak tonight?

Tanaka’s ERA is a so-so 4.09 — only 24 points than Andrew Cashner, for instance — but he’s 8-2 (Cashner is 3-9). Such are the benefits of playing for a great team. In fairness, Tanaka is still striking out a batter per inning and allowing a shade over one baserunner per inning. He hasn’t been able to beat the Orioles this year, though; the Yankees have lost both his starts against them, with Tanaka giving up six runs in 10.2 innings.

Game 2: Wednesday, 1:05 PM

RHP Alex Cobb (2-14, 6.08) vs. Sonny Gray (8-7, 5.08)

The afternoon finale of the two-game set will send each team’s worst starting pitcher to the mound. Much is made (at least by the sports media folks who love traditional stats) about Cobb’s MLB-worst 14 losses, but anyone who pitches on a team as bad as the Orioles is going to get a lot of losses, whether they deserve them or not. Cobb has had only eight disastrous outings (“only,” he says, like that’s a good thing) in which he’s allowed four runs or more. He’s had six quality starts in which he received a loss or a no-decision.

That’s not to say Cobb hasn’t been bad. He certainly has. His 6.08 ERA and 1.56 WHIP would both be second-worst in the majors if he had enough innings to qualify — which he will after this start, assuming he pitches at least five innings. So, yeah, that four-year contract the O’s gave Cobb is working out just as well as Ubaldo Jimenez’s did. Cobb has somehow managed to avoid facing the Yankees this year until now. In his career, he’s 6-4 with a 2.99 ERA in 14 starts against them, which is perhaps a reason to be optimistic.

Gray, a 2017 trade-deadline acquisition by the Yankees, has been a weak link in their rotation this season, and in fact he may soon lose his spot after the Yanks acquired veteran starters J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn in recent days. But there’s one team that Gray has managed to beat three times this season, throwing a quality start each time. You’ll never guess who it is! Not in a million — oh, you got it, yes, it’s the Orioles. The players currently on their roster have combined for just six hits against Gray in 2018, almost single-handedly keeping his season afloat.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    2 (Orioles will sweep)
    (47 votes)
  • 33%
    1
    (74 votes)
  • 45%
    0 (Orioles will get swept)
    (99 votes)
220 votes total Vote Now