O’s game blog: The series in the Bronx begins

For the Orioles, who have played 38 of their 104 games to date against American League East opponents, their schedule is about to get division-heavy once again. They open a three-game series tonight at Yankee Stadium to start a run of six straight games within the division. They will also play 13 of their next 16 and 22 of the next 31 through Sept. 5 within the division.

The AL East is the only division in the majors with four teams playing at least .500 ball, and fourth-place Toronto is six games over .500, playing .529 ball at 54-48. The Orioles are 12-26 in the division this year. So they have a .316 win percentage in AL East games and are playing .379 ball at 25-41 outside of the division.

The Orioles are meeting the Yankees for the first time since mid-May. They are 4-6 on the season against New York and 1-2 at Yankee Stadium. They lost those first two games in New York in early April and the clubs have split eight games since then.

The Yankees (56-48) are in third place, seven games behind division-leading Tampa Bay, which leads Boston by 1 1/2 games. New York is playing better recently. They completed a three-game weekend sweep of Miami, winning those low-scoring games by a combined 10-4 score. New York is 10-4 over the last 14 and 15-7 since July 4, when they were 41-41. They have won six of their past seven series.

New York is 27-23 at home and has a stellar record of 35-21 in games decided by two runs or fewer. They are just 22-29 within the division, going 6-4 against the Orioles, 6-6 versus Toronto, 7-9 against Tampa Bay and 3-10 versus Boston.

Yankees starting pitching has been on a pretty good roll. Over the last 22 games, their starters have an ERA of 2.45 and have allowed two earned runs or fewer 18 times with 131 strikeouts over 117 1/3 innings.

The Orioles (37-67) are coming off their four-game series split at Detroit. They are 9-6 since the All-Star Game and 6-3 over their past nine games. They are 2-2 on this road trip and 20-36 in road games for the season.

Right-hander Jorge López (2-12, 6.19 ERA), who leads the majors in losses, will make his 22nd start tonight and his fourth this year versus New York. Lopez allowed five runs over just two innings against Miami in his last start. He has failed to pitch five or more innings in six straight starts and in eight of his last nine times to the mound. In those six games he is 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA.

Lopez-Follow-Through-Gray-SEA-Sidebar.jpgLopez has allowed 1.677 WHIP this year with a 4.0 walk rate and 8.4 strikeout rate. He is 1-7 with a 6.52 ERA in 10 road starts. In his two years as an Oriole, over 30 games, he is 4-14 with a 6.23 ERA and 1.608 WHIP. He has made 27 starts and the Orioles are 9-18 in those games.

This season he is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA (10 earned runs over 10 2/3 innings) in three starts against New York. In the six starts he’s made against the Yankees in his career, he has gone 1-3 with a 7.23 ERA. They hit .297 with a .798 OPS against him in his career.

Left-hander Andrew Heaney (6-7, 5.27) will make his Yankees debut tonight. They acquired him last Friday from the Los Angeles Angels for two minor league pitchers. In 18 games for the Angels this year he pitched 94 innings, allowing 92 hits with 16 homers, 31 walks and 113 strikeouts. He has a 1.309 WHIP with a 3.0 walk rate and 10.8 strikeout rate. The Angels went 8-10 in his 2021 starts.

He recorded two quality starts in his last two games, versus Minnesota and Colorado. In those games, he allowed eight hits and five runs in 13 innings with five walks and 15 strikeouts.

Lefty batters hit .270 with a .733 OPS against him and right-handers bat .245/.748. He has always thrown a heavy percentage of fastballs and is doing that again this year, throwing the pitch 60 percent with an average velocity of 92.1 mph. He uses his slider 22 percent and changeup 18 percent.

Here is a surprising stat: The Orioles average 4.15 runs per game and New York averages less at 4.09 rpg. The Yankees rank 10th in the league in batting average (.234) and 13th in slugging (.391). Yankees batters have struck out 960 times, fourth-most in the AL, and they rank only 10th in home runs. O’s batters have fanned 908 times, ninth-most in the AL, and they rank 12th in home runs.

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