And then there were 10. Just 10 games and three series remain in the 2018 season. The Orioles (44-108) begin their last road trip of the season playing three games at Yankee Stadium starting tonight and three in Boston beginning Monday night. Then they return home for a four-game series with the Astros to conclude the year.
On Wednesday night the Orioles held Toronto to four hits in a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays. DJ Stewart hit his first career homer and scored the second run when he doubled and scored on Cedric Mullins’ single. Jimmy Yacabonis pitched four scoreless to start the game, and four bullpen pitchers followed with a combined five innings of two-hit ball.
The Orioles bullpen ranks 14th in the American League with a 4.74 ERA. But the ‘pen pitchers have been better lately. Over the last four games they’ve allowed three earned runs over 19 innings for a 1.42 ERA. Going back five games, they’ve allowed four earned runs over 22 1/3 for a 1.61 ERA.
The Orioles just completed a 3-6 homestand in which they lost the first two games of each series, but then took the finale. They’ve lost 10 of 13, 14 of 18 and 22 of 29 games. On the road the Orioles are 3-19-2 in series play and 17-58 overall.
The AL East versus the AL East:
.700 - Boston (49-21)
.561 - New York (37-29)
.545 - Tampa Bay (36-30)
.400 - Toronto (28-42)
.300 - Baltimore (21-49)
The Orioles’ .300 win percentage within the division is actually slightly better than their overall win percentage, which is .289. They have gone 8-11 versus Tampa Bay, 6-10 against New York, 5-14 versus Toronto and 2-14 against Boston. The Orioles are 13-24 (.351) at home within the AL East and 7-25 (.219) against division opponents on the road. Four of those wins came at Yankee Stadium, where the O’s are 4-2 this season. So that’s 3-23 in every other road AL East game, including their 0-10 mark at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
On the mound tonight, right-hander Yefry Ramírez (1-6, 5.50 ERA) gets the start, which will be his 11th. Last Saturday he lost a 2-0 pitcher’s duel to the Chicago White Sox and Reynaldo López. But Ramírez threw well, allowing four hits and one run with seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings with 83 pitches. His fastball, which ranged between 91 and 95 mph, seemed to have some nice late life in that game. Over his past three games, two in relief, Ramírez allowed one run in nine innings. Caleb Joseph caught that start for Ramírez against the White Sox and came away impressed.
“I thought, probably, pure stuff-wise, that was the best I’d seen him before,” Joseph said that night. “Really nice life on the fastball. Really good action on the slider. Threw quite a few quality changeups. They’re a pretty aggressive team, and he stayed in the zone and took advantage of a lot of aggressive hitters in aggressive counts. Credit to him. We’ve seen starts where he had the potential to do this - go deep in the game and really keep them off the scoreboard. But the pitch count has been up.”
Added manager Buck Showalter: “Really good, really good. That’s probably his best outing of the year. I thought his best fastball, best slider. His slider’s come a long way. Changeup, threw about 10 or 15 of those. Good times to the plate with runners on base. Just another night where he deserved a better fate as far as W and L. He was outstanding. That was fun to watch. That was as good as you want to see a young pitcher pitch.”
But Ramírez has struggled in three starts this year against the Yankees, his former organization. He is 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA. Tonight we’ll see if he can carry it over from that good outing last weekend.
Left-hander CC Sabathia (7-7, 3.80 ERA) makes his 28th start for New York. Sabathia is 0-2 with a 9.28 ERA and .412 average against in three starts this month. He has just one win his last 11 starts.
But he is trying for a third straight season with a sub-4.00 ERA after he had years of 4.50 or higher every season from 2013 through 2015. Sabathia begins tonight 24 strikeouts shy of 3,000. He stands with 244 career wins, tied for 52nd all-time and one behind former Oriole Dennis Martinez.
In three 2018 starts against Baltimore, Sabathia is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA. He’s allowed five Orioles homers in 15 innings. In 44 career starts against the Birds, he is 19-11 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.223 WHIP. O’s batters have a .253 average against him.
The Yankees (93-59) are 3-5 their last eight games and 9-11 in the last 20. They went 62-33 before the All-Star Game. They are 31-26 since. New York has hit 247 homers, their most ever and the most in the majors since the 2016 Orioles hit 253. The Yankees have hit 33 homers their last 16 home games.