The Yankees, moving northward towards their home opener against the Angels on Friday, are in Baltimore to take on the Orioles for the first time this season. New York is coming off a series loss against Tampa, while the O’s took their opening series from the Minnesota Twins.
Tonight’s matchup features Ivan Nova and Brian Matusz. Matusz had a successful rookie campaign in 2010, but ran into the ultimate sophomore slump in 2011. He posted a 10.69 ERA in 49.2 innings, while surrendering 18 (!) homers (3.3 HR/9). He also gave up 81 hits (14.7 H/9). On the semi-bright side, his strikeout rate of 6.9 K/9 wasn’t awful. Everything else…yikes. Matusz has held the Yankees to a .265 average and a .315 on-base percentage in 130 PA against them, but when the Yankees have gotten hits, they’ve gone for extra bases (.530 SLG; .265 Iso).
Nova, who’s looking to avoid a sophomore slump after a successful 2011 and a horrid Spring Training, has fared pretty well against the Orioles, though Nick Markakis has given him fits (.444/.615/.667).
Tomorrow, the Yankees will see Wei-Yin Chen, a 26 year old lefty born in Chinese Taipei. From 2008-2011, he posted a 2.48 ERA and a 3.27 K/BB for the Chunichi Dragons of the Japan Central League, where he’s been pitching since 2004. Here is a scouting report on him, courtesy of Orioles Nation.
The O’s will send Jake Arrieta to the mound in the series finale. He’s had a mixed bag against the Yankees, dominating some (Nick Swisher: 0-13, 0 BB; Brett Gardner: .545 OPS) and getting torched by others (Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Derek Jeter).
The Yanks will counter with CC Sabathia, looking to bounce back from a pretty rough first start against Tampa. Sabathia hasn’t done poorly, but hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire, when facing the Orioles.
One thing about this series I’m excited about? Nick Johnson! Johnson made the team out of Spring Training and isn’t broken (again) yet, so there’s an accomplishment. The key for Yankee victory in this series is the same as it always is against the Orioles: pound the starters early and then get to the bullpen. Also, don’t disrespect Flanny.
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