Date/Time: May 22, 7:05 p.m. EST
Starting Pitchers: New York (Kuroda) Baltimore (Hammel)
MLB Gambling Odds from WagerWeb
Moneyline: Yankees (-115) Orioles (+105)
Before the season, Yankees fans were down in the dumps about their prospects this year after all the offseason injury news. Fast forward to today and the Yankees sit in first place in the highly competitive AL East. Baltimore has been slumping of late, but the Orioles are still within striking distance. Nate McLouth's walkoff homer gave Baltimore a big win over the Yankees last night. Let’s take a look at this series finale which will be broadcast on ESPN.
The New York Yankees typically come into the season with some very high expectations, but this year’s team didn’t have those typical high expectations. With injuries to so many key players, there were some experts who thought the Yankees could do no better than fourth in the difficult AL East. While there is still a lot of the season left to be played, the Yankees are doing far better than almost any could have predicted so far this year. What has been the difference? Some major contributions from guys like Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, and others. This offense has been able to be near the top of the league in most categories despite missing Jeter, ARod, Tex, and Granderson for most of the year.
New York’s pitching staff has been more dependable so far this year than they were last season. C.C. Sabathia has been very good as usual, but it has been Hiroki Kuroda who has been spectacular at the top of the rotation. Kuroda is 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA on the year. Rivera, Logan, Robertson, and Chamberlain are the anchors of one of the better bullpens in the American League. The Yankees are sixth in baseball in overall team ERA.
Baltimore led the AL East just a few short days ago, but the Orioles have hit the skids of late. It has been their normally reliable bullpen that has let them down. Closer Jim Johnson had converted 35 straight save opportunities until last week, but now he has blown three straight saves. Baltimore’s bullpen was ranked in the top five in baseball until a week ago, but now they are right in the middle of the pack. The Orioles don’t have a true number one or number two pitcher, so the starting rotation is certainly a question mark as well.
Offensively, the Orioles have been much better this year than they were in 2012. Chris Davis’ huge 2013 has been a big boost for this offense. Manny Machado is a youngster with all kinds of ability, and he has really been hitting the ball well for the Orioles over the last few weeks. Davis, Machado, and Adam Jones are all hitting .318 on the season. Chris Dickerson went deep twice last night, and the Orioles have plenty of guys who are contributing right now. Baltimore is fourth in the majors in runs scored per game at 4.93 per contest.
Free Pick: Under 9
Kuroda has been great this year, and Hammel is an underrated pitcher at this point in his career. The under is 7-1-1 in the last 9 meetings between these teams.