By Matt Straub
For all the talk about how bad the AL East is, the New York Yankees are chugging right along, on pace to win 90 games and set themselves up to bring playoff baseball back to the Bronx.
The Yankees have won eight of 10 and seem in control of the division, despite only being two games up on the surprising Rays. As summer takes hold and the dog days of the season arrive, the Yankees need to keep putting games in the win column and try to build some breathing room. The next week or so is a great chance to do so, starting with tonight's opener of a three-game set against the Orioles. Baltimore is finding itself a bit, but is looking up at the Yankees, who can put away another potential rival with a big weekend. At the very least, taking two-of-three takes another weekend off the scheudle and keeps the Yankees in control of the division.
Let's look at how they can keep things rolling.
New York Yankees (33-26, 1st Place AL East)
at Baltimore Orioles (29-30, 4th Place AL East)
Friday, 7:05 p.m.
Michael Pineda (7-2, 3.33 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3, 3.02)
Saturday, 7:15 p.m.
CC Sabathia (3-7, 5.25) vs. Bud Norris (2-4, 8.63)
Sunday, 1:35 p.m.
Adam Warren (4-4, 3.64) vs. TBA
Sure the Yankees lost a chance to sweep the Nationals, but they got a split against a team a lot of people still expect to see in October. More importantly, the Yankees have won 8 of 10. Their schedule hasn’t been terribly difficult, but New York has done what it has had to, beat the teams on their schedule. The Orioles have won a season-best four in a row and 6-of-7, though sweeping the Red Sox shouldn't count these days. They showed some mettle salvaging the final game of a four-game set against the Astros after losing the first three, and have rolled since.
Three Orioles To Watch
1. Nolan Reimold just rejoined the Orioles after the latest in a long line of debilitating injuries. He homered against the Red Sox Sunday (who doesn't?) and could provide a useful piece for a team in desperate need of a spark.
2. Jimenez has been good more often than not over the last month. He doesn't throw a ton of innings, but can be very effective when he is in there and help set up a battle of bullpens. With Dellin Betances overworked and Andrew Miller injured, that's something the Yankees aren't looking forward to all of the sudden.
3. Adam Jones continues to rake over the last few weeks, and his combination of speed and power will be a huge challenge for the Yankees in this series. Jones is one of the more underrated players out there these days, and New York hopes he doesn't make a name for himself this weekend.
The road trip continues against the Marlins, who are as bad as their uniforms are ugly, starting next week. It's another great chance for New York to bank wins.