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Baltimore Orioles V: Last Throes Edition

The last time the Yankees and Orioles played, the Yankees suffered a let-down coming off a series win in Boston and their 8-1 start to the second half. Going into this weekend’s three game series in Baltimore, I can’t help but look ahead to the Yankees’ three-game set against the Red Sox at the Stadium next week. Here’s hoping the Yankees are able to stay focused on the task at hand and build up some momentum heading in to that Boston series which, if it doesn’t go well, could seal the Yankees fate this season. The Yankees enter tonight’s action trailing both the Red Sox and Twins by six games for the Wild Card lead. They have six games left against the Sox, none left against the Twins, and six left against the Blue Jays, who are just a game behind the Yanks after last night’s win.

The Yankees are an alarming 5-7 against the last-place Orioles this season, and a mere 2-4 at Camden Yards on the year, though they’ve not been to Baltimore since the end of May. Since losing two of three to the O’s in the Bronx at the end of July, the Yankees are 8-12. The Orioles, meanwhile, are 10-9 since leaving the Bronx, their only two series losses over that span coming against the Angels and Red Sox.


Moose serving up that knucklecurve you ordered.

None of this is encouraging. One would think the pitching matchup would be. Mike Mussina takes the hill looking for win number 17 against just-recalled Radhames Liz, who sports a 7.28 career ERA in the majors. Mussina is 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA and no home runs allowed in his last four starts. Liz was demoted on the eve of the Yankees last series against the O’s after posting a 7.47 ERA in ten starts in June and July.

Not so fast. Five starts ago, Mussina gave up two dingers and six total runs in five innings against . . . the Orioles. In two starts against his former team this season, Moose has allowed 13 runs in 5 2/3 innings. His last start at Camden Yards was also his final start of the 2007 seaon. He gave up six runs in five innings. As for Liz, the 25-year-old Dominican righty posted a 2.67 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP while striking out 27 in as many innings in triple-A this month, and in two relief appearances against the Yankees last year totaling 4 1/3 innings, he allowed just one run while striking out five and allowing as many baserunners. Though most of those innings game in mop-up duty against the Yankees’ subs, the Yankees in tonight’s starting lineup who have faced him are a combined 1-for-10 with four strikeouts against Liz.

Are there any encouraging signs heading into this series? Hideki Matsui has just two hits in 11 plate appearances since returning, but they’ve been good for six total bases (.545 slugging) and three RBIs. He’s also struck out only once and grounded out only twice, which suggests his swing is in good shape. Derek Jeter has hit .317/.382/.440 since June 1, .392/.434/.486 in August, and is 17-for-32 on his current seven-game hitting streak. Bobby Abreu is hitting .328/.407/.531 since the All-Star break. Uhm . . . that’s about it.

Baltimore Orioles

2008 Record: 61-65 (.484)
2008 Pythagorean Record: 63-63 (.502)

Manager: Dave Trembley
General Manager: Andy MacPhail

Home Ballpark (multi-year Park Factors): Oriole Park at Camden Yards (101/102)

Who’s Replaced Whom:

Jay Payton has replaced Adam Jones (DL) in center field
Luis Montanez (minors) has replaced Jones on the roster
Alex Cintron (DL) has replaced Brandon Fahey (minors)
Radhames Liz (minors) replaces Garrett Olson (minors)
Chris Waters (minors) has replaced Brian Burres (minors)
Rocky Cherry (minors) has replaced George Sherrill (DL)
Kam Mickolio (minors) has replaced Chad Bradford

25-man Roster:

1B – Kevin Millar (R)
2B – Brian Roberts (S)
SS – Juan Castro (R)
3B – Melvin Mora (R)
C – Ramon Hernandez (R)
RF – Nick Markakis (L)
CF – Jay Payton (R)
LF – Luke Scott (L)
DH – Aubrey Huff (L)


S – Alex Cintron (IF)
R – Luis Montanez (OF)
R – Guillermo Quiroz (C)


R – Jeremy Guthrie
R – Daniel Cabrera
L – Chris Waters
L – Radhames Liz


R – Jim Johnson
L – Jamie Walker
R – Dennis Sarfate
R – Lance Cormier
R – Fernando Cabrera
R – Randor Bierd
L – Alberto Castillo
R – Rocky Cherry
R – Kam Mickolio

15-day DL: R – Adam Jones (CF), L – George Sherrill, R – Chris Ray, R – Greg Aquino
60-day DL: R- Danys Baez, L – Troy Patton, L – Adam Loewen, R – Matt Albers, R – Jim Hoey

Typical Lineup:

S – Brian Roberts (2B)
L – Nick Markakis (RF)
R – Melvin Mora (3B)
L – Aubrey Huff (DH)
R – Ramon Hernandez (C)
L – Luke Scott (LF)
R – Kevin Millar (1B)
R – Jay Payton (CF)
R – Juan Castro (SS)

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Thread  Series Preview

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