Anytime the New York Yankees make the short trip down I-95 to visit Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, it usually means an intense and important series is about to begin.
This weekend will be no different.
The three-game series beginning Friday will be the third between the two teams this season, the second in Baltimore. In the previous two series the teams are 3-3, each won two of three in their home ballparks.
The Orioles and Yankees are second and third, respectively, in the American League East, separated by a single game in the standings. This series provides opportunities for both teams.
The Orioles could add some distance between themselves and the Yanks. They could also close in on the first-place Boston Red Sox, who lead Baltimore by three and a half games. The Sox are facing the surging Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, who are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
If the Yankees were to win two of three in the series, they would leap over the O’s and into second place with a game in hand.
After splitting a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians, the Orioles are 4-6 in their last 10 games and are tied with Toronto with the fewest home wins among AL East teams (22). The Yankees are 5-5 in their last 10 and are 19-18 on the road this season.
Chris Davis continued his MVP-like performance this past week. In seven games the 27-year-old collected two more home runs and seven RBI. He continues to lead the majors in homers with 28, and with 74 RBI trails only Miguel Cabrera (78) for the major league lead.
This year against Yankees pitching, Davis is batting .409 with two home runs — both off probable starters this weekend, C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.
Another Oriole swinging a hot bat is Ryan Flaherty. In his last five games, he is 8-16, with three home runs and five RBI.
The series begins Friday night with a 7:05 p.m. start. The Yankees are set to send David Phelps (5-4, 4.01 ERA) to the mound. In his post-game press conference after Thursday’s win against the Indians, Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced T.J. McFarland (1-0, 4.14 ERA) would get his first career start.
On Saturday at 7:15 p.m., the Yankees’ ace, Sabathia (8-5, 4.09 ERA) will duel against fellow southpaw in the Orioles’ Zach Britton (1-2, 5.51 ERA) according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko. If he does make the start, it will be his fourth of the season.
The series concludes on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball when New York sends Kuroda (7-5, 2.77 ERA) to face Chris Tillman (9-2, 3.72 ERA). Kuroda last faced the O’s on May 22; he allowed five runs in two innings. Tillman is 5-0 in the month of June.