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Orioles-Yankees series preview: Get ready for a barrage of home runs

The Orioles cannot keep Yankee batters in the park, especially at Camden Yards. So watch your head.

MLB: MAY 23 Yankees at Orioles
DJ LeMahieu is one of approximately eight billion Yankees who have homered against the O’s this year.
Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Yankees are headed to Baltimore for a three-game series starting tonight. If you’re planning on attending any of these games and sitting in the outfield seats, please bring your hard hat.

I’m going to level with you, folks. In all likelihood, this series is not going to be pretty for Orioles pitchers. The Yankees’ offense has obliterated the hapless O’s staff to a unheard of and, frankly, disturbing extent.

Not only have the Orioles lost 10 of the 12 meetings this year — including the last nine in a row — but they’ve allowed 36 home runs in those 12 games. Thirty-six! And 27 of those long balls have come at Camden Yards.

Gleyber Torres alone has hit 10 against the O’s, with four multi-homer games. Gary Sanchez has nine, including a three-homer performance April 7. Clint Frazier, who’s not even in the major leagues right now, has six. Even Troy Tulowitzki got in on the action with a blast off the O’s in April, the only home run of his Yankees career before he got injured and announced his retirement.

Needless to say, the Yankees — who are already running away with the AL East pennant — will be licking their chops to face O’s pitching again. And the Orioles’ league-leading total of 218 home runs allowed will undoubtedly grow over the next three games. The question is by how much.

Game 1: Monday, 7:05 PM

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (7-6, 4.78) vs. RHP Gabriel Ynoa (1-6, 5.55)

Tanaka, despite earning an All-Star appearance this season, has fallen on hard times of late. In his last six starts, the 30-year-old has been torched for a 10.59 ERA, giving up an unsightly 31 earned runs and eight homers in 26.1 innings. That included two self-destructions against the Red Sox — one in London on June 29, the other in Boston on July 25 — in which Tanaka allowed 18 earned runs in a total of four innings.

Fortunately for Tanaka, the Orioles are not the Red Sox. He’s handled the O’s with ease in his two starts this season, giving up just one earned run each time. I would also point out that he’s 5-3 with a 3.44 ERA lifetime against the Birds, but this year’s Orioles club bears little resemblance to previous seasons, roster-wise.

For the Birds, Ynoa will temporarily return to a rotation he hasn’t been part of since June 30, when he wrapped up a seven-start tryout in which he went 0-5 with a 6.55 ERA. He’s done solid work in long relief since then, including a 1.26 ERA in his last six outings, spanning 14.1 innings. He’s faced the Yankees only once this season, a 2.1-inning relief appearance May 22, in which — you’ll never guess! — he gave up a home run to Torres.

Game 2: Tuesday, 7:05 PM

TBD vs. RHP Asher Wojciechowski (2-4, 4.15)

Wojciechowski has started six games for the Orioles, which still isn’t enough for me to learn to spell his name with confidence. He’s pitched much better than his career 6.64 ERA entering this year would suggest, including the Birds’ most dominant start of the year, a 7.1-inning, 10-strikeout, one-hit blanking of the Red Sox on July 21. He followed that up with another sterling seven-inning outing against the Angels, but fell back to earth in his most recent start against the Blue Jays (4.2 IP, 4 ER). He’s faced the Yankees just once in his career, throwing a scoreless inning of relief against them in 2017.

The Yankees haven’t announced a starter for this game. This turn would normally belong to CC Sabathia, but he was placed on the IL on July 31 with right knee inflammation.

Game 3: Wednesday, 7:05 PM

LHP James Paxton (6-6, 4.61) vs. LHP John Means (8-6, 3.12)

John Means is back! John Means is back! At least, that’s the plan. The Orioles’ All-Star, who went on the IL with a left bicep strain July 26, is eligible to return for this series. Just in time to help a rotation that’s currently starting guys like, well, Gabriel Ynoa and Asher Wojciechowski. Means will be reintroducing himself to the team that his breakout 2019 started against. He earned his first major league win with a strong 3.1-inning long relief effort at Yankee Stadium on March 31, then faced New York again in each of his next two appearances and kept them scoreless. Means hasn’t pitched against the Yanks since then.

Paxton hasn’t quite been the top-of-the-rotation dynamo the Yankees were hoping for when they acquired him from Seattle this past offseason. The Canadian southpaw never had an ERA worse than 3.90 in his six years with the Mariners, but it currently sits at 4.61 in 19 starts for the Yankees this year. He also has a career-worst 1.463 WHIP. Still, he’s getting his strikeouts — with an 11.6 K rate that’s just one point off his career high set last year — so perhaps some improvement is on the horizon.

The last time Paxton faced the Orioles was all the way back on April 4 in the Camden Yards home opener. The O’s bombarded him for three runs in the first inning, getting the sellout crowd all excited, only for Paxton to settle down and pitch 5.1 solid innings while the O’s bullpen blew the lead. It was quite the harbinger of things to come in 2019.


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

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    3 (Orioles will sweep!)
    (15 votes)
  • 6%
    (12 votes)
  • 48%
    (96 votes)
  • 38%
    0 (Orioles will get swept)
    (77 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now