That’s because the Yankees already have had one tough series against Buck Showalter’s surging Orioles this month heading into Friday night’s opener at Camden Yards.
New York (88-58) has lost five of six on this trip against division leaders Texas and Tampa Bay, with four of the defeats coming by one run. The Yankees dropped two of three to the Rays after a 4-3 loss Wednesday.
“We could have very easily won five of these games,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes you get the big hits, sometimes you don’t.”
The loss dropped New York one-half game behind Tampa Bay for the AL East lead. The World Series champions lead Boston by six games for the wild card but would like to win the East to gain home-field advantage for one or possibly two rounds of the playoffs - they were 7-1 at home in the 2009 postseason.
“There’s no question, we want to win the division,” third baseman Alex Rodriguez(notes) said. “I don’t want to downplay that at all. We know what home-field advantage means. We saw what it did for us last year.”
New York has won 11 of 15 against the Orioles (58-88) this year, but the first 12 meetings were before Showalter came aboard.
Baltimore has won nine of 11 and captured four straight series. The Orioles are 26-15 under Showalter, including 9-6 against the AL East.
“To this team’s credit, we could have just rolled over and cashed in the season, played mediocre,” first baseman Luke Scott(notes) told the Orioles’ official website. “But I’m proud of my teammates, how our work ethic has been. We come to the ballpark prepared and ready to play every day.”
The Yankees have seen first-hand the improvement by the Orioles. Baltimore came close to a three-game sweep in the Bronx from Sept. 6-8 before Nick Swisher’s(notes) two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gave New York a 3-2 victory in the finale.
Second baseman Robinson Cano(notes) is one RBI away from becoming the fourth second baseman in team history to record at least 100. Cano is 15 for 24 at Camden Yards this year and a .370 career hitter there.
He’s 11 for 25 in his career against scheduled Baltimore starter Kevin Millwood(notes) (3-15, 5.30 ERA), who is 0-4 with a 4.78 ERA in five home starts since the All-Star break. Millwood has pitched fairly well over his last seven overall outings, posting a 3.28 ERA but going 1-4.
The veteran right-hander gave up three runs over six innings last Friday and did not get a decision in a 6-3 victory at Detroit.
Millwood is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA in three starts against New York this year, getting chased in the sixth inning each time. Five different Yankees homered against him in those games.
His counterpart on the mound also has had a poor season. A.J. Burnett(notes) (10-13, 5.13) has set a career high in losses with his worst ERA, including 1-5 with a 6.70 ERA over his last eight outings.
Burnett is 11-4 with a 4.51 ERA in 17 career starts against the Orioles, but he’s 0-2 with a 5.27 ERA in his last two.
The right-hander gave up two runs over four innings in Saturday’s 7-6 loss at Texas in an outing shortened by a rain delay.