We haven’t been able to say this often in recent years, but it’s a struggling New York Yankees team that comes to Camden Yards tonight as the Orioles’ homestand continues. They’ll play a doubleheader to begin a four-game, three-day series through Sunday.
The New York Mets beat the Yankees 9-7 in 10 innings Thursday on Pete Alonso’s two-run, walk-off homer. New York (20-16) is tied with Toronto for second in the American League East, both five games behind Tampa Bay. The Orioles (16-20) are in fourth, nine games behind the Rays.
The Yankees have lost three of four and are 4-10 over the last 14 games. While they have gone 7-0 versus Boston, they are 13-16 against everyone else. That includes a 2-0 mark against the Orioles after they won 9-3 and 8-6 at Oriole Park in July. The Yankees are 11-8 in AL East games, which includes a 2-8 record against Tampa Bay. They are 6-9 on the road and 8-10 in games decided by two runs or fewer.
But New York has not lost to the Orioles since March 31, 2019, when the O’s posted a 7-5 win at Yankee Stadium. Since then the Orioles have lost 18 straight with six consecutive series sweeps. Furthermore, New York has won 17 in a row at Camden Yards since Baltimore’s win on July 10, 2018.
Last season the Yankees hit 43 homers in going 10-0 in Baltimore, and they added five homers in the two games in July.
Both these clubs were among the best-hitting teams in the league earlier this year, but both have fallen back a bit. Where they stand right now in the AL rankings:
* Team batting average: O’s .263 (2), NYY .242 (8)
* Team OBP: O’s .325 (5), NYY .334 (2)
* Team slugging: O’s .441 (tie for 2nd), NYY .441 (tie for 2nd)
* Team OPS: O’s .766 (4), NYY .775 (3).
Orioles individual batting notes:
* Hanser Alberto is batting .379 (11-for-29) during a seven-game hitting streak with 11 singles. Alberto had 11 doubles his first 20 games and has just one his past 13 games.
* Since going 1-for-6 his first two games, Ryan Mountcastle is batting .371 (13-for-35) his past nine games with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs.
* Renato Núñez has hit four homers his last eight games after a 14-game homer drought.
* Over his past 26 games, Anthony Santander is batting .291 (32-for-110) with 10 doubles, a triple, nine homers, 19 runs and 25 RBIs. He ranks third in the AL with 32 RBIs and leads the club with 10 multi-RBI games.
* José Iglesias has seven straight multi-hit games and is batting .441 (15-for-34) in that span. He is batting .413 (19-for-46) during a 10-game hitting streak with five doubles and seven RBIs.
The Orioles had to make a rotation change this morning. Alex Cobb (1-3, 4.33 ERA) was placed on the injured list and right-hander Thomas Eshelman (3-0, 3.48 ERA) will get the start in today’s opener instead. Manager Brandon Hyde said the club was “following protocol” with Cobb and they hope to have him back soon. That leads me to believe this is more COVID-related than injury-related. You can come off that injured list at any time.
Eshelman has thrown just one inning in the last 11 days, giving up two runs in an inning to the Mets on Tuesday. He has made two starts this year, going 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA, and the Orioles won both games. In 20 2/3 innings this season he has posted a 0.823 WHIP, yielding 1.3 walks and recording 3.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Hyde said Eshelman found out just this morning that he would make this start.
“I wasn’t too concerned if Tom would be ready or not when we called him this morning,” said Hyde. “I know that he loves to pitch, he loves to start. He’s taken advantage of his opportunities. I remember a start in Anaheim last year that was kind of last-minute. And he went out and threw really well against the Angels. Wade LeBlanc goes down in the first, a week or so ago, and he pitches really well there in a rushed situation. So, I’m not concerned about the build-up to his start. I know he’s always ready and it’s a great opportunity for him.”
The Orioles will see two of the Yankees’ top 30 prospects make starts in the doubleheader. Going in the opener will be 25-year-old right-hander Michael King (1-1, 6.23 ERA), who has made seven outings and two starts. For the season, over 17 1/3 innings he has allowed 16 hits and 12 runs with six walks and 15 strikeouts.
Rated their No. 26 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, he throws his fastball from 90 to 95 mph and has good groundball rates. He made a start in a doubleheader Sunday versus the Mets and gave up two runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Rookie right-hander Deivi García will make his second big league start in the nightcap for New York. The 21-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic is ranked as the Yankees’ No. 3 prospect. He ranks No. 65 in the Baseball America top 100 and is No. 100 on MLBPipeline.com. He was the starting pitcher for the American League in 2019 in the All-Star Futures Game. Since his pro career began in 2016, he leads all minor leaguers with a 12.75 strikeout rate per nine innings (minimum 250 innings pitched).
He made his major league debut last Sunday versus the Mets and gave up one unearned run on four hits over six innings and 75 pitches. He threw 43 fastballs that averaged 92 mph, topping at 94. He added 19 curveballs, and that is his best secondary pitch. The Mets swung at eight of them and whiffed three times.
The Orioles will start right-hander Jorge López (0-0, 6.59 ERA) in the second game. He made his O’s starting debut last Sunday against Toronto, allowing three runs over 4 2/3. That outing began with his retiring the first nine in order on just 26 pitches. He threw 63 pitches on the day, with 42 either two- or four-seam fastballs that averaged 93.8 mph and topped at 95. He added 16 knuckle curveballs.
There will be just one game blog for both games and this it. So stay here with your comments throughout the night.