NEW YORK YANKEES (74-64)
at BALTIMORE ORIOLES (71-68)
First pitch: Thursday, 1:35 p.m. ET
Line: New York -105, Baltimore -105, Total: 9.5
The Orioles will be hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive with a Thursday victory over a Yankees team that is still trying to get to the top of the AL East standings.
New York had been extremely hot heading into Tuesday night’s meeting with Baltimore, as the Yankees had won four of five heading into that one and three of those victories were against the rival Red Sox. The Yankees also jumped out to an early 6-1 lead against the Orioles on Tuesday and they also had a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. New York could not, however, hold onto that lead and ended up allowing a walk-off homer to 3B Manny Machado. There were two outs when Machado got up to bat, so the Yankees will definitely be kicking themselves over losing that one. As for the Orioles, the team had lost three of five before beating the Yankees on Tuesday. It was a huge win for this Baltimore team, as the Orioles have their hearts set on earning the second spot in the AL wild card race. The starters in this Thursday night matchup are going to be RHP Sonny Gray (8-9, 3.36 ERA, 129 K) for New York and RHP Kevin Gausman (10-9, 4.79 ERA, 148 K) for Baltimore. One thing that stands out when looking at this one is the fact that Gray’s teams are a miserable 1-11 against the money line when playing against division opponents over the past two seasons. That will need to change rather shortly if New York is going to keep climbing the standings. Also, the Yankees will be without C Gary Sanchez (Suspension) for another two games.
Sonny Gray will be on the hill for the Yankees on Thursday and the team needs him to be at his absolute best in this one. New York blew a huge lead against Baltimore on Tuesday night and can’t afford to let that start a downward spiral. It is too late in the year for the Yankees to struggle now, especially considering the Red Sox came away with a win in extra innings on Tuesday. Gray was not very good in his last trip to the mound, when he gave up four earned runs in seven innings of work against Boston. The Yankees need more from him here or this game could get away from them. Gray just needs to make sure he keeps the ball down in this one, as the Orioles have as many power hitters as anybody. On offense, the Yankees will likely send OF Jacoby Ellsbury out there on Thursday. Ellsbury has gotten himself on a roll lately, as he has seen his average rise from .241 to .259 over the past 10 games. He had two RBI against Baltimore on Tuesday and it’d be huge if he came through again here.
The Orioles are coming off of a huge victory over the Yankees and they’ll definitely be brimming with confidence on Thursday. A walk-off victory like that one can always be the start of a nice winning streak, but Baltimore will need a solid performance from Gausman here. The righty has been stellar for the Orioles as of late, as he has allowed no earned runs in his past 13.2 innings on the mound. Gausman has, however, been absolutely miserable against the Yankees this season. He allowed seven earned runs in only 3.1 innings of work against them on Jun. 11 and allowed a total of 11 earned runs in 16 innings of work over his other three starts against New York. If he can’t turn things around then there is no chance the Orioles win this game. As for Baltimore’s offense, the team will be hoping that 3B Manny Machado can build on what he did on Tuesday. Machado’s walk-off blast was his second homer of the game and it ended a six-game homerless streak for him. Perhaps he’ll get his power stroke going again moving forward.