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Orioles-Yankees series preview: A showdown between two wild card hopefuls

The O’s can increase their lead over the Yankees for the top wild card spot with a strong showing in the four-game set in the Bronx.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Orioles’ 2-1 comeback win to wrap up their homestand Sunday might not have quelled all of fans’ concerns about the team. But it snapped the Birds’ four-game skid and increased their lead to four games over the losing Yankees for the American League’s top wild card spot. With the two clubs now going head to head for the next four days, the O’s have a golden opportunity to increase that advantage. Or to lose the entire lead, if they get swept. Please don’t get swept, Orioles.

Today is the one-month anniversary of the last time Aaron Judge played a game. The reigning AL Most Valuable Player was off to another incredible start — a .291/.404/.674 line, with 19 home runs and 40 RBIs — before crashing through the Dodger Stadium fence trying to make a catch and subsequently landing on the injured list with a torn ligament in his toe. There is no timetable for his return.

The Yankees have barely treaded water in Judge’s absence, going 11-13 since his injury. Although fill-in outfielders like Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney have held their own, it’s a largely toothless lineup without Judge. Familiar names like Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu have struggled to get going, while veteran third baseman Josh Donaldson was on the verge of being permanently benched until getting hot in the Yankees’ recent series in Oakland.

The Yankees’ boast the majors’ best bullpen, with an MLB-leading 2.80 ERA, but injuries have plagued their starting rotation. Nestor Cortes Jr. has been on the shelf since June 8 with a rotator cuff strain and high-priced offseason acquisition Carlos Rodón (forearm strain) has missed the entire season so far. Rodón is set to finally make his Yankees debut this Friday, just after the Orioles leave town, so they won’t have to worry about him. They also won’t have to worry about Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who started yesterday and won’t pitch against them in this series.

This is the Orioles’ second and final trip to Yankee Stadium this year. The Birds took two of three in New York from May 23-25, including a sensational comeback May 24 in which they scored eight runs in the seventh to erase a 5-1 deficit. Perhaps they’ve got another thriller or two in store.

Game 1: Monday, 7:05 PM, MASN

RHP Tyler Wells (6-4, 3.21) vs. RHP Domingo Germán (5-5, 4.54)

Domingo Germán? Hmm, I’m not familiar with that name. Let me look up how he’s done lately. (typing) (mouse clicking) (spits out drink) A perfect WHAT??

Yes, this will be Germán’s first start since he entered the history books by throwing the 24th perfect game in MLB history. The 30-year-old is sure to receive a king’s welcome at Yankee Stadium after his 27-up, 27-down masterpiece in Oakland on Wednesday. Funnily enough, though, Germán wasn’t pitching particularly well before that. In his previous two starts, he was destroyed for 17 runs (15 earned), 15 hits, and five home runs in 5.1 innings, and his spot in the Yankees’ rotation was far from secure. I’d say he’s bought himself quite a bit of extra rope now. The way the Orioles’ offense is going right now, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Germán had another brilliant outing in him on this night, but it also wouldn’t be a shocker for the O’s to send him to an early exit.

Wells, on the other hand, was Mr. Consistent in June; he allowed exactly two earned runs in each of his five starts of the month, permitting five to seven baserunners in each. He entered June with a 3.29 ERA and finished it at 3.21. Wells continues to pitch like the ace of the O’s staff, so hopefully he’ll get the Orioles off to a strong start in what promises to be a tough series. The Yankees, though, are one of the few teams he hasn’t had much success against in 2023. Wells gave up four runs against them on April 9 and five on May 24, two of just three outings this year in which Wells has allowed more than three earned.

Game 2: Tuesday, 1:05 PM, MASN

RHP Kyle Gibson (8-5, 4.66) vs. RHP Clarke Schmidt (3-6, 4.37)

On Independence Day — and the birthdays of both Peter Angelos and the late George Steinbrenner — the teams they once owned will square off for an afternoon matinee. Schmidt, in his first season as a full-time starter, has been a reliable presence in the Yankees’ rotation, tied for the league lead with 17 starts. He’s been just below a league-average pitcher (95 ERA+) and gives up plenty of baserunners (1.421 WHIP), though that didn’t stop him from holding the Orioles to one run in five innings in his previous start against them. Schmidt has completed six innings only twice in 17 starts this year, so expect to see the Yankees’ middle relievers get into the action.

Meanwhile, Gibson’s season has taken an ugly turn in his last two starts. On June 23 the Mariners torched him for five runs in three innings, his shortest outing of the year, and five days later the Reds brutalized him for six runs in 4.2 innings. That two-start stretch inflated Gibson’s ERA from 3.94 to 4.66, edging him closer to the struggling hurler who fell out of favor in Philadelphia last year. However, his last start against the Yankees was his most dominant of the season, a scoreless, seven-inning gem May 25 in which he gave up just two hits.

Game 3: Wednesday, 7:05 PM, MASN

RHP Dean Kremer (8-4, 5.04) vs. TBD

Kremer hasn’t faced the Yankees since the Orioles’ home opener April 7. The O’s staked Kremer to a 4-0 lead in that game, but he frittered it all away and ended up with a no-decision. That’s sort of been the story of the season for Kremer, who can’t reliably be counted upon to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard, which is, you know, kind of an important thing for a pitcher. Any progress he seemed to be making in May, when he posted a 2.45 ERA, was erased by a brutal June (5.91 ERA). He finished the month with a horrific three-inning, seven-run outing against the Twins. So...good luck, Dean.

The Yankees haven’t announced a Wednesday starter as of this writing. Their previous starter in this spot, rookie Jhony Brito, was optioned to the minors June 28 and will be ineligible to return.

Game 4: Thurday, 7:05 PM, MASN

RHP Kyle Bradish (4-4, 3.58) vs. Luis Severino (1-3, 6.30)

Poor Kyle Bradish unfurled a sensational start against the Twins over the weekend and was saddled with a hard-luck loss, thanks to an O’s offense that couldn’t scratch a single run across. It continued an excellent stretch for Bradish, who has a 2.00 ERA (five earned runs in 25 innings) in his last four starts. And two of those were against AL East teams, which have typically haunted him in his young career. Now that Bradish has finally snapped his winless drought against divisional foes by beating the Rays on June 20, he’ll hope to keep the good times rolling against the Yankees, who tagged him for four runs in five innings when they faced him in May.

The 2023 campaign has been a struggle for the two-time All-Star Severino, who didn’t make his season debut until May 21 due to a strained lat muscle. After getting torched for a 6.93 ERA and .966 opponents’ OPS in June, he began July with a nine-run, nine-hit disaster in St. Louis. Severino has coughed up 10 home runs in just 40 innings. Anthony Santander, who already has two career dingers against Severino, may well find the seats again. On paper, this might be the most Orioles-friendly pitching matchup of the series.


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

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    4 (Orioles sweep!)
    (29 votes)
  • 33%
    (118 votes)
  • 49%
    (175 votes)
  • 6%
    (24 votes)
  • 1%
    0 (Orioles get swept)
    (6 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now