Matt Wieters is about to get another look at the opponent he has fared best against in 2012 and the only pitcher he owns more than two hits against this year.
The Baltimore catcher is 5 for 6 with two homers against New York Yankees starter Ivan Nova, who gets the ball in Monday night's opener of a two-game series against the first-place Orioles at Camden Yards.
Baltimore (22-13) has homered 56 times and New York (19-15) has 53 to rank among the MLB leaders.
Keeping the Orioles in the ballpark figures to be a challenge for Nova (4-1, 5.02 ERA), who has yielded eight homers - five fewer than he gave up in 165 1-3 innings in 2011.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA in two starts against the Orioles this season, allowing 19 hits in 13 1-3 innings. Wieters has four extra-base hits among those as part of a 12-for-23 performance against the Yankees this year.
Nova pitched well Tuesday, giving up two runs over seven innings to earn a 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay.
The Orioles entered the weekend tied for first with the Rays, then won two of three against Tampa Bay to take a one-game lead in the AL East. They missed a sweep as their rally from a six-run deficit fell short in Sunday's 9-8 defeat.
"This team never gives up," said Wieters, who ended a nine-game homerless drought. "We had a chance in the ninth and just didn't come through. It would have been a nice game to win, but at the same time you know this team is going to keep playing hard and we're not out of any game. That's how we feel in this clubhouse."
The Yankees, who are 2 1/2 games behind the Orioles, had a three-game win streak snapped with Sunday's 6-2 loss to Seattle as Andy Pettitte made his return for the club. Pitching for the first time since the 2010 postseason, Pettitte gave up four runs over 6 1-3 innings.
"I thought it was so awesome. I was so excited. I know we lost today and that's what a lot of people are going to focus on - I could really care less about that," outfielder Nick Swisher said. "We got our boy back."
The Yankees will get their second look this season at Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.09), who will try to avenge his lone 2012 defeat. He yielded two runs over six innings April 30 in a 2-1 loss.
The right-hander, who has allowed one run over 15 innings in two home starts, has not pitched since he struck out eight and gave up two runs over 6 2-3 innings in an 8-2 win at Boston on May 5. Hammel was pushed back to rest a sore knee.
"We plan on him pitching Monday," manager Buck Showalter told the Orioles' official website. "I saw him (Sunday), he came in, he had a smile on his face, got his normal stuff done."
No player has gone deep more times against Hammel than Alex Rodriguez, who is 6 for 17 with four homers. Derek Jeter and Raul Ibanez are each 5 for 16 with a homer.
New York has taken four of six from Baltimore this season, sweeping three road games April 9-11.
- Matt Wieters
- the Orioles
- New York Yankees