While ending a run of 14 straight losing seasons would be considered a very successful campaign for Baltimore, the Yankees are again expected to compete for a championship. Perhaps the only thing more surprising than how well Baltimore has played so far this season is how poorly the Yankees have looked. The O's will try to open 4-0 for the second consecutive season and send the Yanks to their first 0-4 start in 39 years Monday night in the opener of a 3 game set at Camden Yards.
Any improvement Baltimore makes in 2012 will hinge on improving a pitching staff that ranked last in the majors in ERA (4.89), hits (1,568) and homers allowed (210). Looking to keep the Orioles rolling will be Brian Matusz, who hopes to erase the memory of a miserable season. Thought to be the team's emerging ace after an outstanding second half in 2010, the left-hander regressed in a huge way last season. He went 1-9 in 12 starts and his 10.69 ERA set a single-season high for pitchers with at least 10 starts. Matusz earned the final spot in the rotation with a solid spring, but making his first start against New York will be a challenge. He was tagged for 11 runs in 6 2-3 innings in two starts versus the Yankees last season.
Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are hitting a combined .415 (22 for 53) with 10 extra-base hits - three homers - against Matusz. The Yankees were on the other end of a season-opening sweep, losing all three games in Tampa Bay for their first 0-3 start since 1998. After scoring 12 runs in the first two games, New York was limited to three hits in Sunday's 3-0 defeat. Ivan Nova will try to help New York break into the win column. The right-hander did more than his share of winning last season, finishing second on the team with 16 victories while compiling a 3.70 ERA. Nova, however, posted an 8.06 ERA in 22 1-3 innings this spring and his spot in the rotation was in question.
While Nova has not been at his best this spring and Matusz seemingly off to good starts only to find himself in trouble by the middle innings, we'll take a shot at this one at a fairly decent price. We think both lineups will be able to take advantage of hitter friendly Camden Yards while both hurlers run the risk of one pitch that could lead to one or several big innings along the way. Best of luck however you play!