Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Series Ahead: Yankees vs. Orioles

Yankees - Orioles
@ Yankee Stadium
(3 Games)

Hey, how's it going? My name is Patrick Stapleton and I am going to be a senior at Catholic University in the fall (Brian Cashman's alma-mater). I do a sports radio show there and write for the school paper, so I thought it was ideal to join a sports blog. Back when the other news writers were added to SIH Greg had mentioned that there would be other writers coming on board in the future. I am one of those writers and I am glad to be here. And of course, my first year watching the Yankees was '98.

The Yankees are entering their second straight series against a less than mediocre team. After a four game series against the Indians, which saw the Yankees offense get back on track by outscoring the Indians 37-20 and scoring at least 7 runs in all four games, the Yankees are set for a three game series against the Baltimore Orioles. They head into the series with a rejuvenated A-Rod (9 RBIs and 1 HR in 3 games) and an MVP candidate in Robinson Cano (10 RBIs and 2 HRs). Look for them to heat up even more against the awful O's pitching.

As you know, these are no longer the Orioles of the late 90's. A team that was once proud, and one of the Yankees biggest rivals from the 70's through the 90's, have been diminished to the weakest team in baseball. They are also the only team in the competitive AL-East with a less than .500 record and the lowest scoring team in the AL (175 runs). If that were not bad enough, their ERA is 25th in baseball at 4.66, which is the third worst ERA in the AL. Over 17 series this season, the Orioles have a record of 2-13-2. The Yankees, on the other hand, have a record of 12-4-1. To say that the Yankees are expected to win this series would be an understatement, but that is why the games aren't played on paper.

The O's head into the series with two veterans, not Wieters or Jones, leading the way. Luke Scott, their DH, and Ty Wigginton, their 1bmen, have combined for 22 HRs, 52 RBIs, and a more than respectable 237.5 OPS+. The two veterans, who are both 32, have been bright spots on an otherwise dismal O's offense. The 24-year-old Adam Jones, their once highly touted OF prospect, has slipped into obscurity because of a .251/.274/.382/.656 line. Matt Wieters is struggling in his second season (.250/.323/.351/.674). One of their former prospects that is doing well, though, is Nick Markakis, who sports an OPS+ of 125.

The O's were just swept by the Blue Jays in a three game series, being outscored 16-3. The Blue Jays, arguably the most underrated team of the 2010 season so far, just blew past them.

The Yankees are coming off a resurgent series against the Indians. However, a major problem was revealed in the second game when they had two six run leads (9-3 and 10-4), but were unable to hold on for the victory. Their bullpen ERA is an ugly 4.56, which is 22nd in baseball. They are surrounded by teams like the O's (20th), the Pirates (23), the Royals (24), and Houston (25th). Even the once dominating bullpen of the Angels is 26th with a 4.94 ERA. That should be the Yankees biggest concern entering June.

The first game of the series will be a battle of two struggling pitchers. Javier Vazquez, after two good starts in a row, struggled mightily in his last start, giving up 5 earned runs to the Twins over 5 2/3 innings. Since I am going to the game, I wouldn't mind a solid start from Javy, but the chances are slim.

Brian Matusz, the Orioles highly touted 23-year-old pitcher, has struggled recently after getting off to a strong start. Matusz has struggled in the first few innings, so the Yankees should hope to jump on him early. In three career starts against the Yankees, Matusz has gone 1-2 with a 2.37 ERA.

After a red-hot April (15-7) and then a much cooler month in May (16-13), the 31-20 Yankees look to June as a month to revitalize themselves and possibly take back first place in the AL-East. That journey starts tonight!


Game 1: Tonight @ 7:05 p.m. | TV: YES | Radio: WCBS
RHP Javier Vazquez (3-5, 6.86) vs. LHP Brian Matusz (2-5, 5.76)

Game 2: Wednesday @ 7:05 p.m. | TV: YES | Radio: WCBS
RHP Phil Hughes (6-1, 2.70) vs. RHP Brad Bergesen (3-3, 5.96)

Game 3: Thursday @ 1:05 p.m.
| TV: YES | Radio: WCBS
LHP CC Sabathia (4-3, 4.16) vs. RHP Kevin Millwood (0-5, 3.89)

Three Questions
  • Can Nick Swisher push his great May into June?
  • Will CC put together a solid start?
  • Will the bullpen rebound from a rough Indians series?
Injury Report

- C Jorge Posada was placed on the 15-day DL with a hairline fracture in his foot. According to Joe Girardi, he will be returning fairly soon.
- DH/1B Nick Johnson is on the 60-day DL with an inflamed tendon in the wrist. Had Surgery on Tuesday out until Late July.
- RHP Alfredo Aceves is on the 15-day DL with lower back discomfort. May be lost for the season depending on the results of some more testing.
- SS Derek Jeter is day to day with a tight hamstring, suffered in yesterday's game against the Indians.

- RP Michael González is on the 60-day DL with a strained left shoulder.
- RP Jim Johnson is on the 15-day DL wit a small tear in his right elbow.
- OF Felix Pié is on the 60-day DL with a strained left shoulder
- 2B Brian Roberts is on the 60-day DL with a strained abdominal muscle.
- RP Alfredo Simon is on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring.
- SP Koji Uehara is on the 15-day DL with a right elbow strain.

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