With their playoff hopes about all but over and elimination likely near, the Orioles begin a series at Yankee Stadium tonight, playing a three-game set versus the New York Yankees. The clubs played 13 times in the season’s first 45 games and just one series since, three games right out of the All-Star break.
The Orioles (80-76) have lost three in a row, five of six and nine of 14 games. They are 9-15 the last 24 games and are 12-15 in September with one game to go in the month. Their elimination number is one.
The Orioles scored 23 runs and hit nine homers in the first two games of their series at Boston this week. But they scored just four runs on two homers in the last two games. They have scored three runs or fewer in 13 of the last 24 games, going 2-11 in those 13.
As this series begins, the Yankees' Aaron Judge is sitting on 61 homers. His two-run shot in the seventh inning Wednesday night tied Roger Maris (who hit 61 in 1961) for the American League record for homers. Both men now with one more than the 60 Babe Ruth hit in 1927. If Judge homers again in the final six games, he will alone be the single-season AL record holder for homers in a year.
At the same time he is also trying to become just the second player since 1967 to win the Triple Crown. For the year, over 151 games, he is batting .313/.425/.699/1.121 with 61 homers and 130 RBIs. Mike Trout is second in homers with 38 and José Ramírez is second with 119 RBIs. But Judge begins this weekend second in the AL in batting average, which is led by Minnesota’s Luis Arraez at .315.
Since 1957, the last three players to win the Triple Crown were the Orioles' Frank Robinson in 1966, Carl Yastrzemski of Boston in 1967 and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. So there has been one Triple Crown winner in the last 55 years.
The only Yankees to win Triple Crowns were Lou Gehrig in 1934 and Mickey Mantle in 1956.
This year against the Orioles in 15 games, Judge has hit .397 with a 1.384 OPS, nine homers and 19 RBIs. That is his most homers versus any club. Next is Kansas City, and he has hit seven in six games against that club.
Right-hander Jordan Lyles (11-11, 4.55 ERA) will make his 32nd start tonight. The Orioles are 16-15 in his outings this year and are 9-3 his past 12 starts. In those games, his ERA is 4.20.
Two starts ago, Lyles allowed one run in a complete game versus Detroit. Monday he allowed two runs in two innings at Boston and did not return after a rain delay, so he will be pitching on three days' rest tonight.
Lyles has allowed two earned runs or fewer 16 times this season and has recorded 12 quality starts.
Right-hander Domingo Germán (2-3, 3.30 ERA) gets the start for New York. He missed the season’s first 93 games with a right shoulder impingement. In his past seven games since Aug. 22, he has a 2.36 ERA, a .194 batting average against and .589 OPS. He has allowed three runs or fewer in 11 consecutive starts.
Germán has not faced the Orioles this season. For his career, he is 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA and 0.923 WHIP in eight career games (six starts) against Baltimore.
Baltimore's Jorge Mateo leads the AL with 34 stolen bases, while Cedric Mullins is tied for second with 32. Mateo and Mullins are the only pair of teammates in the major leagues this year with at least 30 stolen bases each. O's teammates have never finished first and second in the league in stolen bases, and it has not happened in a full major league season since 1992, when Montreal's Marquis Grissom (78) and Delino DeShields (46) led the National League. It has not happened in the American League since 1971, with Kansas City's Amos Otis (52) and Freddie Patek (49) doing so.