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Orioles-Yankees series preview: O’s look to keep the good feeling going

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Thought of as little more than a punching bag coming in, the Orioles got the season off to a great start against the Red Sox. Imagine if they keep it going against the Yankees, too?

Baltimore Orioles vs New York Yankees Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Boy, that was fun, wasn’t it?

From John Means’s dominance to the Trey Mancini comeback story to the start of hopefully a Matt Harvey redemption tour, and finishing up with one heck of a third inning Sunday, opening weekend couldn’t have gone much better for the 3-0 and sweep-happy Orioles.

Keep going down the line. Cedric Mullins at the plate. Maikel Franco’s debut. Bruce Zimmermann continuing his spring training form. It all went the Orioles’ way — and against a team that’s so fun to beat, too.

Now comes another team that would be nice to have all the answers for. The Orioles travel to the Bronx for their first three games with the Yankees, a team that has terrorized them for the last two seasons. Baltimore dropped seven of its 10 games with New York last year, which was certainly better than the year long drubbing (17 losses in 19 games) from the previous season, but the O’s were still outscored 49-34 in the losses.

Fortunately for the Orioles, the Yankees haven’t gotten off to a blistering start either. New York enters the series after dropping two out of three to the Blue Jays and seeing its vaunted offense kept in check to the tune of eight runs in three games. The Yankees lost 3-2 in 10 innings in the opener, bounced back to win 5-3 Saturday, then finished the set with a 3-1 loss on Sunday.

So far, the hottest bat on the team has belonged to Clint Frazier, who has four hits in nine at-bats for a .444 average. Defending American League batting champion DJ LeMahieu (a top-four MVP candidate the last two seasons) is hitting .273, as is Gary Sanchez, who also has both of the team’s home runs so far. It’s been a cold start so far for Aaron Judge (.214), Gio Urshela (.182), Aaron Hicks (.083) and Giancarlo Stanton, who has as many hits as you and I do this season.

Game 1: Monday, 6:35 PM

RHP Jorge Lopez vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery

Lopez was in the mix of arms competing for a rotation spot in the spring, and he did well enough in the Grapefruit League (2.75 ERA over three starts and 19.2 innings, 1.220 WHIP) to make the cut as one of the Orioles’ five starters. It’s been a bumpy career, however, for Lopez, who has a 6.03 career ERA and pitched to a 6.34 number last year. Certainly, the Orioles will be eager to see if Lopez, like Zimmermann, can build on his spring momentum and deliver a solid start.

He’s 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA against the Yankees lifetime, though the win came last year, when he pitched five innings of a 6-3 victory, allowing three runs (none earned) on three hits and one walk while striking out two.

Montgomery went 2-3 with a 5.11 ERA for the Yankees last year, and is 13-10 with a 4.14 ERA over four seasons. He delivered a solid start in his only outing against Baltimore, a 2-1 Yankee win, when he struck out nine in 5.2 innings while allowing one unearned run and three hits.

Game 2: Tuesday, 6:35 PM

RHP Dean Kremer vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (0-0, 3.38)

While the Orioles reach the end of their rotation, the Yankees return to the top of theirs. For Baltimore, Kremer gets his first start of 2021 after an encouraging major league introduction in 2020. One of the team’s top pitching prospects coming up, he went 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA in four starts, striking out 22 in 18.2 innings.

Fortunately, two of the better outings came against the Yankees. In his big league debut, he allowed one run on one hit while striking out seven in six innings, and the Orioles won 5-1. In his second start, the Orioles lost 2-1 but he allowed one run in five innings. The focus now is for him to prove he has improved, and not regressed, after allowing a 6.32 ERA over five spring starts.

Cole, there’s no other way of saying it. He’s one of the best in the game. He went 7-3 last season, his first in New York, with a 2.84 ERA and 94 punchouts in 73 innings. He finished fourth in the Cy Young voting, one year after finishing second while with Houston. In the season opener this year he got a no decision after pitching 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and two runs while striking out eight. He went 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA in three starts against Baltimore last year.

Game 3: Wednesday, 6:35 PM

LHP John Means (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Jameson Taillon (first start)

For anyone wondering if Means could find that All-Star form from 2019, Means gave plenty of evidence to the affirmative. The lefty was sensational, shutting down the Red Sox and allowing only one hit in seven innings of work while striking out five. He walked none and was in command from the beginning, spotting a changeup that baffled the Boston hitters and mixing it with a mid-90s fastball that the changeup must have made look like it had an extra five or so miles per hour to it.

This came against the Red Sox, whom Means has historically done well against. It’s a different story against the Yankees; Means is 1-2 with a 7.17 ERA for his career, stretching across seven appearances and four starts. The 2020 season brought differing results, however, as he was lit up early to the tune of five runs in 2.1 innings in a July 30 loss, but bounced back to allow one run in six innings on Sept. 13.

Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, will make his Yankees debut after pitching four seasons with the Pirates. His best season was 2018, when he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA, but he hasn’t pitched since the 2019 season due to flexor tendon and UCL surgery that he received midway through that year. He did pitch well in spring training, compiling a 1.08 ERA and striking out 14 batters in 8.1 innings.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win this series?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    3 (Orioles will sweep!)
    (52 votes)
  • 34%
    2
    (120 votes)
  • 47%
    1
    (165 votes)
  • 3%
    0 (Orioles will get swept)
    (14 votes)
351 votes total Vote Now