NEW YORK YANKEES (76-67)
at BALTIMORE ORIOLES (76-66)
First pitch: Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Baltimore -135, New York +125, Total: 8.5
Just one-half game apart in the AL East standings, the Yankees and Orioles will search for some key September wins as the two begin off a four-game series Monday night at Camden Yards.
New York won Sunday night to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox and did so without SS Derek Jeter (ankle), who appears to be out for some time after aggravating his injury. CC Sabathia takes the mound for the Yankees on Monday having earned a win in four of his past five starts despite not pitching particularly well (5.58 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). Facing Sabathia will be Chris Tillman (15-5, 3.71 ERA), who has seen his Baltimore teammates lose four of his past five starts even though he has actually pitched pretty decently (3.62 ERA, 1.08 WHIP). The O's hold a slim 8-7 advantage against New York in 2013, including a dominant 5-1 at home. Baltimore, which began its homestand by winning 3-of-4 versus the White Sox, is now 41-30 at home in 2013 while the Yankees are a shaky 32-36 on the road. However, the Orioles are just 23-24 against lefty starters, averaging only 4.2 runs per game against them, compared to a 53-42 record and 5.3 runs per game when facing right-handed starters.
Sabathia (1.35 WHIP) has been hurt badly by home runs this season, letting 28 balls fly out of the park, which has contributed greatly to a mediocre 16-13 team record in his starts. The big lefty has struggled to deal with decreased velocity this season, tallying 160 strikeouts and 56 walks in 190.2 innings of duty. Few pitchers hold dominance over one team the way Sabathia does though, owning a 20-5 record (team is 24-7) in 31 career starts with a 3.18 ERA and 1.12 WHIP versus Baltimore. As part of his struggles this year though, the lefty has given up at least four earned runs in three straight starts against the O's. Two guys he really needs to watch out for are OF Adam Jones (.302 BA, 3 HR, 11 RBI in 53 at-bats) and 2B Alexi Casilla (.516 BA in 31 AB). Sabathia can still go deep into games (6.6 IP per start), but itís good for him to know heís supported by a strong bullpen with a 3.54 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 2013, numbers that drop to a 2.54 ERA and 1.25 WHIP on the road.
This season, Tillman (1.25 WHIP) has 144 strikeouts and 62 walks in 172.1 innings while giving up 152 hits, 27 of which have been home runs. Thatís the fifth-most homers allowed by a pitcher this year in the majors. Though the Orioles haven't won many of Tillman's recent outings, they are 19-9 (.679) when he takes the hill this year. But against the Yankees in his career, Tillman owns a hideous 7.43 ERA and 2.03 WHIP with a 3-4 record (team 5-4) in nine starts. Most recently, he gave up 10 hits and five earned runs over 5.1 innings to them in a July 6 loss, but he did pitch well in his lone home start against New York, allowing just two runs over six innings of a 4-2 victory on June 30. Among the people who have owned Tillman include 2B Robinson Cano (11-for-22, 2 HR, 8 RBI), 1B Lyle Overbay (6-for-14, 2 HR), and 3B Alex Rodriguez (4-for-7, 2 HR). Tillman has pitched an adequate 6.2 innings per season, and the Baltimore bullpen has done a good job backing him up, producing a 3.60 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, numbers that are even better at home (3.25 ERA, 1.18 WHIP).