Manager: Joe Girardi, seventh year
Last 10 games: 6-4
Who to watch: LF Brett Gardner (.279/.355/.455, 18 doubles, 6 triples, 15 HR, 50 RBIs, 73 R); 1B Mark Teixeira (.230/.332/.444, 19 HR, 52 RBIs); CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.280/.348/.412, 24 doubles, 10 HR, 52 RBIs, 30 SB); RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 2.89 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Season series vs. O’s: 3-6, 25 runs scored, 44 runs against
If you’ve heard the Joe Girardi for American League Manager of the Year talk, here’s why: With 45 games to play, the Yankees are operating with just 10 players that started the year active.
Injuries and ineffective play have hit the club hard, turning over more than half of the 25-man roster as the team arrives in Baltimore for a three-game series that has the potential to take New York out of the division race.
The Yankees are in third place, six games behind the Orioles, who have been one of the hottest teams in baseball and hold the largest division lead in the majors (five games).
If New York is going to make a run at Baltimore, it’s going to do so with the overhauled club it has put together by necessity.
Only Hiroki Kuroda currently remains from the opening day rotation with CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda all on the disabled list. Sabathia and Nova are done for the year. Pineda, however, is scheduled to return from the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday. He hasn’t pitched since April 23 because of a suspension and multiple injuries.
The Orioles will face three pitchers that have combined for 14 appearances (13 starts) this season for the Yankees - left-hander Chris Capuano, and right-handers Shane Greene and Pineda.
The Yankees also have only three remaining relievers from their season-opening bullpen and their lineup has taken a far different look from the last time these teams played just a month ago. Former O’s second baseman Brian Roberts has been released, catcher Brian McCann is on the concussion DL, and both infielders Yangervis Solarte and Kelly Johnson have been traded.
So how has this patchwork roster fared? Not too badly of late.
The Yankees have lost their last two games by a combined score of 7-1. But before that, they had won six of seven, outscoring the competition 35-23 - pretty impressive for a group that had just been assembled.
Overall this season, the Yankees haven’t been particularly good at anything, posting the worst run differential of any .500 team, and by a wide margin. New York has allowed 25 more runs than it has scored, a figure worse than three clubs with losing records.
The usually high-scoring Yankees rank 11th in the AL with 468 runs, a .251 average and a .698 OPS while standing ninth with 107 homers.
Five players have hit at least 10 longballs, but none have more than first baseman Mark Teixeira’s 19. Teixeira is also tied for the team lead with 52 RBIs despite playing in just 85 games and batting just .230. He ranks second on the team with a .776 OPS.
Left fielder Brett Gardner leads New York with an .811 OPS and 73 runs scored. He also has 18 doubles, six triples, 15 homers, 50 RBIs and 18 steals.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has also been one of the Yankees’ top contributors with a .760 OPS, 24 doubles, 10 homers, 52 RBIs and 30 steals.
McCann (13 homers, 49 RBIs) and designated hitter Carlos Beltran (14 homers, 45 RBIs) have joined them as key to the club’s run production.
For reasons mentioned above, New York hasn’t lived up to expectations on the mound either, ranking eighth in the AL with a 3.82 team ERA, seventh with a 3.88 rotation ERA and 10th with a 3.71 bullpen ERA. So far this month, however, the Yankees have pitched to a 3.13 ERA.
All three starters set to pitch in the series have done well in their limited action with the Yankees.
The 35-year-old Capuano has two quality starts in three outings since being acquired from the Rockies. He’s 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA as a member of the Yankees, and he allowed no earned runs in 6 2/3 innings his last time out.
Greene is 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA in seven appearances (six starts). The 25-year-old rookie is coming off the best start of his career, as he held the Tigers scoreless over eight innings Thursday.
Pineda, 25, made his first four starts with the Yankees in April, going 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA. He was acquired from the Mariners following an All-Star rookie season in 2011. But a shoulder injury cost him the 2012 season and most of 2013 before he spent the remainder of the year in the minors. This was supposed to be his first full season back in the big leagues, but injuries have limited his time with New York.
So the Orioles have an opportunity over the next few days to put some serious distance between themselves and the third-place Yankees. A sweep could increase their advantage to nine games, which could potentially narrow the division race to Baltimore and Toronto.
But the Orioles haven’t seen this version of the Yankees with so much new thrown together with the singular idea of making a run at the first-place Birds.