Two losses by the Yankees at Camden Yards this week have everything back where it started.
The Orioles will go for their first three-game sweep of the last-place Yankees in more than three years on Wednesday, but they’ll have to do it against a pitcher who has dominated them throughout his career.
After the Yankees (25-27) won their final two games against Baltimore in the Bronx last week and swept Seattle over the weekend, New York emerged from the AL East cellar with its offense clicking, having scored 41 runs in the five wins.
The two losses at Yankee Stadium, meanwhile, started the Orioles (26-25) on a five-game skid, as they were swept in Tampa Bay over the weekend. Baltimore scored just nine total runs in the five losses, and was losing the close games it had been winning during its surprising start.
But neither trend has continued this week. The Orioles bounced back with a 6-1 win over the Yankees on Monday, then won a 10-9, 11-inning thriller on Tuesday—a game Kevin Millar called “the biggest Oriole win I’ve seen as far as just a full team effort.”
On Tuesday, New York blew two four-run leads, but after an hour-long rain delay, still took a 9-8 lead on Hideki Matsui’s RBI single in the 11th. The Orioles tied it on Aubrey Huff’s double and won it when Alex Cintron singled in Huff against Yankees reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
Baltimore hit five home runs in the game—including two by Millar— outslugging the Yankees, who hit four.
“That’s the best game that I’ve ever been a part of,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “I’ll replay this one for a long time.”
The Orioles, who’ve won five of eight against New York this year, haven’t swept the Yankees since they beat them in three games at home from April 15-17, 2005.
Andy Pettitte (4-5, 4.27 ERA) will try to stop them. Pettitte is 23-6 with a 3.77 ERA in his career against Baltimore, with seven more wins against the Orioles than he has against any other team.
He’s won his last three starts against them, including his best outing of this season. He tossed seven shutout innings in a 7-1 win at Camden Yards on April 20, allowing just four hits.
The left-hander had lost four straight decisions before beating Seattle on Friday. He tossed six innings against the Mariners, allowing two runs and striking out nine. But he threw 105 pitches in that outing, and was still frustrated with his effort.
“I’m starting off the game and I feel like my stuff is just so good, it’s kind of still mind-boggling to me why it’s taking me so many pitches to get through six innings,” Pettitte said. “I don’t want to strike out five guys through two innings. I want to get some ground balls and have 20 pitches through two innings.”
He’ll face Jeremy Guthrie, who’s been feeling a different kind of frustration. Guthrie (2-5, 3.62) has lost his last two starts despite allowing just one run in each outing, yielding only nine hits in 13 2-3 innings over that span.
He struck out five in 6 2-3 innings Friday, but the Orioles lost 2-0 to the Rays. The right-hander is getting fewer than three runs of support per nine innings this year - among the worst five rates in the AL.