The Yankees will open a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles tonight in the Bronx, first pitch at 7:05 p.m. For the Yanks, Hiroki Kuroda will take the mound as he looks to improve upon his 1-3 record, as well as sub-par 4.38 ERA. Despite a loss in his last outing, due to a lack of run support, Kuroda looked to be setting into his role as the season progresses. Getting the start for the Orioles tonight, is their best starter so far this year in Jason Hammel. He’s off to a 3-0 start, with a spectacular 1.73 ERA. Against the Yankees he hasn’t had much previous success though. With a 1-2 record record and 7.45 ERA, Hammel will need his best stuff to fend off the furious bats in the Bronx.
Tomorrow night’s pitching matchup includes two struggling starters in Phil Hughes for the Yanks and Brian Matusz for the O’s. Matusz is still seeking his first win in 2012, as he is 0-3 with a 5.66 ERA. Hughes had high expectations coming into this season, which he hasn’t lived up to so far. With a 1-3 record and poor ERA of 7.88, Hughes will need to turn it around in a hurry before he is next to be bumped out of the starting rotation, as was the fate for the recently underperforming Freddy Garcia.
In the final game of the series on Wednesday night, Ivan Nova will throw to start for the Yankees against the Orioles Jake Arrieta. Nova has been one of the more reliable starters in the rotation for New York, besides the recently improving C.C. Sabathia. He will look to keep his current record of 3-0 this season perfect, as well as his spotless 3-0 career record against Baltimore.
The Yanks will need to be weary of the Orioles dangerous bat in center-fielder, Adam Jones. He comes into the series leading the team in batting average, .330, as well as their home run leader, 6 total.
On the other side of things, the Baltimore pitching staff will have their hands full of problems dealing with the powerful Yankee hitters. They come into the set leading the majors in home runs with 36. They also find themselves in the top four in the MLB in other significant batting stats, like batting average, hits, on-base percentage, and RBIs.
Although the Yankees swept the last three-game series in Baltimore, the O’s gave them all they could handle, pushing two of those games into extra-innings, which the Bombers survived for a win. Another sweep has got to be on the minds of the Yanks going into this set too. Sitting at just 1.5 games back in the division behind the Rays and Orioles, the Yankees will need to take at least two games in this series in order to make a push to get to the top of the division.