Apr 7, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace (center) talks with starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (31) and catcher Matt Wieters during the fourth inning of a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles Open Important Series With Yankees

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The Baltimore Orioles open an important three-game series with the Yankees in New York. But really, how important can a series be in late June? It is not possible to fully understand or answer that question until the season is over, but at this juncture, the Orioles could greatly benefit from a series win.

Though the Yankees are largely held in derision by most O’s fans, the Evil Empire has provided the AL East with the good service of pulling back the Toronto Blue Jays to the rest of the pack. Perhaps the Jays’ fun in the sun is about to end and they are beginning the walk down the steps to their bedroom in the basement.

Perhaps the Jays are walking down the steps to their bedroom in the basement.

After three straight losses to the Yankees, Toronto is now 1.5 games ahead of New York and 2.5 in front of the Baltimore Orioles.

Since the Birds will be facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday, it would probably be a good idea for them to get the series off to a good start with a Friday night win at The Stadium.  

None of the stats going into this game favor the Orioles, so by 2014 standards that is a very good sign.

When Ubaldo Jimenez pitches, the O’s are not often going to be the favored team on paper. Even so, a reasonable argument could be made that his performances, though not stellar by any measure, are not quite as bad as his numbers. But, at this point he is on pace to finish the season with a record of 5-18. A lot of pitchers could have done that cheaper than at $12.5 million.

Killing Jimenez is his 1.51 WHIP – much as a result of a whopping 45 walks in 76 innings. As we have written all year, his pitch movement and “stuff” is generally among the best. The problem is that the ball tends to also move out of the strike zone. Patient Yankee hitters will tend to give it plenty of time to do just that by not helping him with easy outs early in counts.

It was no secret when Jimenez was acquired that he did not have great career numbers against the Yankees or AL East. For his career he is 1-4, 6.67 against the Yanks, and 1-2, 5.09 at Yankee Stadium.

Jimenez lost to the Yankees in his second start of the season, going 4.2 innings in NY, giving up four runs on eight hits and five walks. It actually could have been worse.

Hopefully the pitcher who threw three consecutive great games at the beginning of May will be the one who shows up tonight after a full week of rest. Frankly, I’m good with this current six-man rotation the Orioles have fallen into. More quality starts going deep into games could extend it a bit longer.

The Yankees turn to their 38-year-old veteran Hiroki Kuroda, who now has a career record of 72-75 – surprisingly poorer than you would expect for a 3.46 ERA and being with the Dodgers and Yankees. In seven career starts, he is 3-3 with a 3.15 ERA against the Baltimore Orioles, including a win earlier this season.

Against Kuroda, Nick Markakis is 8-for-22 with two doubles and a homer, Chris Davis is 6-for-23 with two doubles and two home runs, and Adam Jones is 7-for-25 with a double.

However, J.J. Hardy is 3-for-24 with a double and homer, Nelson Cruz is 3-for-17, and Delmon Young is 1-for-6.

Will Buck Showalter stick with the hot bat of Steve Pearce (who is 0-for-4 against Kuroda)? And if he does keep him in the lineup, does Manny Machado return to the second spot, since he is 5-for-18 with a double and two homers against Hiroki?

And who do you play at second base? Ryan Flaherty has a homer in 10 at-bats while Jonathon Schoop has a double in two plate appearances.

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles Ubaldo Jimenez

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