Series Preview: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles

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After taking two-of-three from their AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Yankees will continue their 10-game road trip by heading up north to face the Baltimore Orioles for a three-game weekend series at Camden Yards.

Last time around, the Yankees split a four-game series in Baltimore. That series ended with an extra innings loss, as a red-hot Cedric Mullens walked things off with a game-winning sacrifice fly. 

Manager Aaron Boone's decision making at the end of the game came under some scrutiny as right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga pitched to Mullins instead of walking him to set up a double play with the winning run on third and one out.

Since then, the Yankees have gone 9-3 and currently sit in third place, two games back in the AL East with a 20-16 record. The Orioles, on the other hand, have trended in the opposite direction, going 5-7 during this span and are now 16-21, six games back and in last place in the division.

The Yankees certainly have some momentum going into this matchup after winning four straight series, and they will look to keep things going against a sputtering Orioles team.

Inside the Pinstripes is here to give you an early look at the upcoming pitching probables and trends as this weekend series between two AL East rivals gets underway.

Pitching Probables:

Game 1: Kluber vs. Kremer

To kick things off, Corey Kluber will get the ball in Game 1 for the Yankees against Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer.

Kluber pitched in the series the last time these two teams faced each other and was stellar. The right-hander tossed 6.2 innings of one-run baseball in this outing, striking out five. He has continued to trend upwards ever since, going 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last three starts, beginning with his performance against the Orioles.

Overall, Kluber has a record of 2-2, with a 3.06 ERA and 35 strikeouts in seven starts this season.

As for Kremer, he endured a rough first month to the year with a 0-2 record and 8.40 ERA. However, he has bounced back since the start of May with a 3.27 ERA in his first two outings this month. Kremer faced the Yankees the last time these two teams played each other and was roughed up for six runs on 10 hits in only 4.1 innings.

Game 2: Germán vs. Lopez

On Saturday night, Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán will take the hill against Orioles starter Jorge Lopez.

Germán had his best start of the season against the Orioles, tossing seven shutout innings, while allowing just three hits, walking one batter and striking out six. Germán is coming off another solid start, against the Washington Nationals, where he went 6.1 inning, and gave up two runs while striking out six and issuing one walk.

The Yankees right-hander has posted a 2-2 record with a 4.02 ERA and 31 strikeouts in six starts this season.

Jorge Lopez on the other hand, hasn’t had the best start to his 2021 campaign either, but is coming off his best outing against the Boston Red Sox. Lopez went 5.2 innings against the Red Sox, allowing just one run on four hits. This was the deepest Lopez has gone into a start since the end of the 2019 season.

Lopez’s stat line this year is 1-3 with a 5.63 ERA. He has had trouble with the long ball, surrendering seven in seven starts.

Game 3: Montgomery vs. Means

The third and final game of the series has the potential to be a pitcher's duel, as the Yankees will send out left-hander Jordan Montgomery to oppose fellow southpaw John Means.

Montgomery is coming off his best start of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he matched a career-high with nine strikeouts. The 28-year-old will face the Orioles for the third time this season and holds a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings so far against them.

The left-hander has gotten off to a solid start to his 2021 campaign with a 2-1 record, 3.96 ERA and 37 strikeouts in seven starts.

On the other side, John Means has been excellent this year and is two starts removed from his no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners. Means’ only outing of the season where he did not reach five innings came against the Yankees on April 7, where he allowed one run in 4.2 innings.

In seven out of his first eight starts this year, Means has given up two runs or less, and he has not allowed more than three runs in any outing. Means has also not allowed a run in his last two starts.

Means has pitched like an ace and AL Cy Young candidate this year. His overall stat line on the season is impressive, leading the AL with a 2.7 bWAR and 1.21 ERA. He is also second in the AL with a 4-0 record, fourth with 53 strikeouts and second with a 0.71 WHIP. It’s safe to say that the Yankees’ offense will have their work cut out for them in the final game of the series against Means.

Final Outlook

The Yankees are coming off an odd series victory over the Rays, where they were outscored 10-5, despite winning two-of-three contests.

Meanwhile, the Orioles were swept by the New York Mets in a two-game series, as closer Cesar Valdez blew a save in Game 1, and Matt Harvey gave up seven runs against his former team in the second game.

New York will be without shortstop and Orioles killer Gleyber Torres, who was recently placed on the COVID IL after testing positive for the virus amid the Yankees' outbreak.

After losing a 12-game hitting streak, Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton has cooled off a bit at the plate, going 4-for-21 with nine strikeouts in his last six games. But Aaron Judge has since snapped his slump with a big series offensively in Tampa, where he went 6-for-12 with a home run.

Infielder Gio Urshela returned to the lineup in Tampa after dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of last weekend’s action against the Nationals. Urshela collected a hit in all three games, but his knee is still bothering him, so it's worth keeping an eye on.

On a more positive note, the Yankees finally got first baseman Luke Voit back after missing the first month and a half of the season, recovering from surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus. Although he did not record a hit in the first two games he played in, Voit’s bat has been sorely missed in the Yankees’ lineup and it is only a matter of time before he finds his rhythm offensively.

The Yankees have not scored more than four runs in their last seven games, so this weekend would be an ideal time for their bats to breakout in a hitter’s park at Camden Yards.


Follow Pat Ragazzo on Twitter (@ragazzoreport). Be sure to bookmark Inside The Pinstripes and check back daily for news, analysis and more.