Pettitte will try to beat Baltimore for the sixth time this year and match his career high with his 21st win in the first game of a doubleheader as the New York Yankees open a season-ending four-game series with the Orioles.
The doubleheader was necessitated after the teams’ series finale in Baltimore on Sept. 18 was stopped due to Hurricane Isabel with a 1-1 tie after five innings.
Pettitte has reached 20 wins for just the second time in his career and will be looking to match the 21-8 record he had in 1996, his second season. The veteran left-hander has won three straight starts, and seven of his last eight.
He has been nearly unbeatable since May 22, when he was 4-5 with a season-high 5.28 ERA. In 22 starts since, Pettitte is 16-3 with a 3.65 ERA.
Pettitte, who entered this year with a 14-4 career mark against the Orioles, is 5-0 with a 3.41 ERA in the first five outings against them—all since June 30. He limited Baltimore to one run and seven hits in six innings of a 13-1 win in his last start against it on Sept. 15.
The Orioles will send Rodrigo Lopez against Pettitte. The right-hander will be looking for his first win since Sept. 3. He has one loss in three starts during that stretch—in that 13-1 loss to Pettitte and the Yankees.
Since the Yankees have already clinched their sixth straight AL East title, manager Joe Torre said that he would play his regulars in one game, most likely the first, and use most of his bench players in the second contest.
That means that players such as Fernando Seguignol, Drew Henson and Erick Almonte will get some rare playing time, and rookie Jorge DePaula will make his first major league start in the second game. He has already made three relief appearances for New York this season.
Rookie left-hander Matt Riley makes his sixth career start—third this season—in the second game.
The Yankees lost two of three at Chicago against the White Sox this week, but have won 14 of 18 overall.
The Orioles are coming off a 14-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, their fourth loss in five games.
STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 27 1/2 GB, AL East. Yankees - 1st place, AL East.
ORIOLES GAME ONE PROBABLE STARTER: Lopez (7-10, 5.99 ERA). Lopez beat the Yankees at New York on Aug. 23, pitching a six-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 7-2 win. However, he is 2-2 with a 6.46 ERA in six games—five starts— against the Yankees.
YANKEES GAME ONE PROBABLE STARTER: Pettitte (20-8, 4.12 ERA). Pettitte is 19-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 27 games—26 starts—against the Orioles. He has already set a career high with 177 strikeouts in 203 1-3 innings, surpassing his total of 166 in 240 1-3 innings in 1997.
ORIOLES GAME TWO PROBABLE STARTER: Riley (1-0, 1.80 ERA). The 24-year-old left-hander was a combined 9-4 with a 3.34 ERA for Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Ottawa before being called up by Baltimore on Sept. 9.
YANKEES GAME TWO PROBABLE STARTER: De Paula (0-0, 1.80 ERA). In 27 games with Triple-A Columbus, DePaula went 10-11 with a 4.35 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Jay Gibbons, .279 avg., 99 RBIs and 79 runs; Tony Batista, 26 HRs; Brian Roberts, 23 SBs. Yankees - Derek Jeter, .320 avg.; Jason Giambi, 41 HRs and 107 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 112 runs and 34 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 10-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - Baltimore needs a split in this series to avoid its third straight 90-loss season. The Orioles will have a losing record and a fourth-place for the sixth straight year since winning the AL East in 1997. … LHP Riley faced the Yankees in 1999 when he made three starts at age 20. In the second game of a doubleheader at Camden Yards on Sept. 30, 1999, he gave up three runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings but did not get a decision in the Orioles’ 12-5 loss. … OF Gibbons is hitting .438 (7-for-16) against LHP Pettitte. Yankees - C Jorge Posada and 2B Soriano have hit particularly well against RHP Lopez. Posada is 6-for-11 (.545) with a double and two homers, and Soriano is 9-for-16 (.563) with two doubles and two homers against Lopez. … The Yankees need just a split in this series for their second straight 100-win season and 17th overall.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 30-47 on the road; Yankees - 47-31 at home.
INJURIES: Orioles - INF David Segui (wrist), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (elbow), 60-day DL. Yankees - OF David Dellucci (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL.