BALTIMORE ORIOLES (72-74)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (79-66)
First pitch: Thursday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Baltimore +180, New York -190, Total: 9.0
The Orioles will be hoping to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a victory over the Yankees on Thursday.
Baltimore has really been disappointing as of late, as the team had lost six straight before beating Toronto 2-1 on Wednesday. The Orioles are now 4.5 games back in the AL wild card race, so they know that they need to get hot soon. If they canít rattle off four or five wins in a row at some point in the next week or two then their season is over. The Yankees, meanwhile, are making a late push to take the AL East right now. They have narrowed the gap in the division down to three, but theyíre going to need to be virtually flawless the rest of the way. Boston is not the type of team that is going to lose seven or eight out of 10, so it will take a significant hot streak by New York in order to make it happen. What should be encouraging for the Yankees is the fact that they are 9-6 against Baltimore this season and 5-1 against the team when playing at Yankee Stadium. The starters in this Thursday night game are set to be LHP Wade Miley (8-12, 4.96 ERA, 132 K) for Baltimore and RHP Masahiro Tanaka (11-11, 4.82 ERA, 165 K) for New York. The edge would appear to go to Tanaka on paper, but the righty has been absolutely miserable this season and the Orioles will not be fearful of facing him. Baltimore also happens to be 36-19 against the money line after allowing three runs or fewer in two straight games over the past two seasons.
The Orioles are hoping to take the first game in this series and Wade Miley is going to be leaned on heavily to shut down the Yankees here. Miley has allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven of his past eight starts heading into this one, so he should be pretty confident when he takes the ball. Miley has also had success against New York this year, as he has a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings of work over two starts against the Yankees. If he can give Baltimore five or so innings of two-run ball then the team would be in pretty good shape here. All the Orioles can hope for is a chance to face a struggling New York bullpen late in a close game. On offense, 2B Jonathan Schoop could be in for a big game here. Schoop is just 4-for-20 against Tanaka in his career, but he does have two homers and five RBI against him. And playing inside Yankee Stadium, heíll certainly have a good chance of going yard again.
The Yankees are on fire heading into this game, as they have now won nine of their past 13 games. New York is really in a groove at the moment, but the team must get a solid performance out of Tanaka here. The righty was shelled in his last trip to the mound, as he allowed seven earned runs on eight hits in only four innings of work against the Rangers on Sep. 8. He had, however, allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his previous six starts before that one. So itís possible that the Tanaka of old shows up on Thursday. As for this Yankees offense, one guy that might be able to provide an unexpected spark is 3B Todd Frazier. Frazier has hit Miley very hard in his career, as he is 5-for-17 with a double and a homer against the lefty in this head-to-head matchup. Frazier has not played well since being traded to the Yankees, but perhaps heíll take Miley yard here.