Aug. 7 MLB Preview — New York Yankees (74-39) at Baltimore Orioles (38-75)

(Gleyber Torres photo courtesy Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

When and Where: Wednesday, Aug. 7, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Md., 7:10 p.m. EDT.

The streaking New York Yankees look to leave Camden Yards with a bang and unleash one more home run barrage on the Orioles in their final game of the season in Baltimore.

The Yankees — looking to match a season high with an eighth straight win — have already set a single-season major league record for home runs in a visiting ballpark, turning Oriole Park into a launching pad with 38 round-trippers in nine games after belting another six in Tuesday night’s 9-4 victory. Gleyber Torres may be the most forlorn about wrapping up his time in Baltimore considering he has hit seven of his 23 home runs on the season at Camden Yards.

All told, Torres has gone deep 10 times against Orioles pitching in 50 at-bats heading into this contest.

Yankees hope to see more of “Big Game James” as Paxton takes hill

Though his first-inning struggles all season have been well-documented, James Paxton (6-6, 4.61 ERA) did live up to his “Big Game James” nickname in contributing to New York’s four-game home sweep of Boston last week that all but ended the Red Sox’s hopes to win the AL East.

Paxton settled down after serving up a two-run homer to J.D. Martinez four batters into the game and threw five shutout innings to lead the Yankees to a series-opening 4-2 victory Thursday. The offense picked him up by scoring four runs in the bottom of the first, and the left-hander did the rest by retiring 16 of the final 19 batters he faced while yielding one hit.

“I didn’t make as many mistakes and the ones that I did make, they didn’t put over the fence,” Paxton told the Yankees official website. “J.D. hit a pretty good pitch in the first inning, not a great pitch to him. He hits stuff pretty well down and in and I missed my spot. Other than that, I felt like I threw the ball pretty well.”

Paxton has served up 11 of his 18 homers in the first inning, during which he has a horrid 11.37 ERA with 24 runs allowed in 19 starts. Beyond the opening frame, the southpaw does not have an individual inning earned run average above his 4.15 mark in 11 sixth-inning appearances.

He began his Yankees career splitting two starts versus the Orioles, laboring to a win April 4 at Camden Yards as he yielded four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of New York’s 8-4 victory. Paxton is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five lifetime starts versus Baltimore, including 2-0 with a 4.32 ERA in three road starts.

New York has extended its lead atop the AL East with its seven-game run, its sixth winning streak of at least five games and longest since its season-best eight game run from June 16-24.

Means back after second stint on injured list

John Means (8-6, 3.12 ERA) is starting against the Yankees for the first time in his career after making three relief appearances in the first weeks of the season. The left-hander emerged relatively unscathed from New York’s long-ball fusillade — Gary Sanchez’s solo homer March 31 was the only run he allowed in 5 1-3 innings spanning his three games.

Means will be activated from the injured list prior to the game, having been sidelined since July 26 with a strained left biceps. It was the second time in five weeks the All-Star missed time with an injury to his throwing arm, but the lefty is confident he is good to go after throwing on the side and an MRI revealed no structural damage to his shoulder.

“It’s very, very minimal,” Means told the Orioles’ official website. “It’s nothing that’s anything to worry about. It’s just very frustrating because it is so minimal that I’ve had to miss time. But at the same time, I’ve been talking to the coaches and everything, and we just want to finish the season strong and healthy and go into the offseason with a very clear idea of how next season is going to look.”

Six of the 13 home runs Means allowed as a starter came in his four outings between stints on the injured list. He went 1-2 with a 5.24 ERA in those games, yielding 11 extra-base hits in 22 1-3 innings.

Means is 6-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 10 home starts, including 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in five versus division rivals.

Notable Trends

The Orioles are:

  • 1-5 in Means’ last six starts during game 3 of a series.
  • 18-38 in their last 56 Wednesday games.
  • 6-21 in their last 27 home games vs. the Yankees.

The Yankees are:

  • 5-0 in their last five games vs. left-handed starters.
  • 18-6 in their last 24 during game 3 of a series.
  • 20-7 in their last 27 games vs. starters with a sub-1.15 WHIP.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Yankees -2.5 runs (-110)

The Yankees are looking for a 12th straight victory over the Orioles and carry a 14-game winning streak at Camden Yards dating back to last season into this contest. Of those 14 victories, eight have come by at least three runs, which includes five of eight this year.

Accordingly, a play on the alternate line courtesy is a worthwhile one compared to the standard run line of -160.

If the Orioles did not have an off day Thursday, Means probably would have been held back to start the opener of their weekend series versus Houston, but Dylan Bundy will be operating on five days’ rest Friday. That makes it easier to slot in Means here, but how effective he will be is a big question mark.

The Yankees have been mashing the bull with absurd consistency — they have averaged 7.0 runs in their last 21 games with 45 home runs in that span. And Baltimore’s pitching staff went back over the two homers per game allowed with Tuesday’s six-pack of dingers.

It should remain the status quo for the Yankees — Paxton gives up a first-inning run or two, the Yankees overcome it by going deep often, and then they pile on against Baltimore’s overmatched bullpen to complete the sweep.

****4-Star Picks****

OVER 10 runs (-105)

A fully healthy Means would have given the under serious consideration, but New York’s offense coupled with a pitcher coming off the injured list are too much to ignore against a number that feels low given the Yankees’ prolific offense.

The over has been trending with both teams, going 14-3 in New York’s last 17 games. It is also 6-2 in Paxton’s last eight road starts and 7-1 in his last eight against teams with a sub-.500 record. The over is also 22-5-1 in the last 28 meetings between the teams at Camden Yards.

The over has delivered in Means’ last four starts against AL East opponents and in the last five when he faced above-.500 opponents. Some of that could be chalked up to his shoulder discomfort, but the over has also hit in his last four home starts and his last four at Oriole Park against teams with winning records.

Yankees OVER 1.5 runs first 3 innings (-131)

The Yankees have scored two or more runs in the first three innings in 11 of their last 18 games, and with the fact mistakes have been hit out of Camden Yards early and often, there is confidence to expect them to plate at least two here. Means has been tough in the first three innings, sporting a cumulative 2.47 ERA, but he also has served up eight of his 14 homers in those frames.

The Orioles also have given up two or more runs in the first three innings in eight of their last 10 games overall ands six of their last 10 versus the Yankees.

***3-Star Picks***

Torres to hit HR (+250)

Come on, did you really think this space would pass up Torres’ last chance at glory at Camden Yards on the season? The feeling is he may be pressing considering his next homer will match his total — and career high — from last season. Torres has gone 0 for 12 in his last three games but is only 0 for 1 versus Means, and with the lefty coming off the injured list, there is a chance for a mistake in the strike zone to be punished.

For those wanting the more standard play, the Yankees over six runs is worth a play at -110 considering they have scored at least five runs in every game during their 14-game winning streak at Camden Yards.

Yankees -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-171)

There was consideration given to the alternate line of 1.5 runs at -105 for the Yankees, but Paxton’s first-inning issues reduce the margin of error too much to be comfortable. Though New York is 10-3-1 at the midway point against Baltimore this season, it is also 2-4-1 in Paxton’s last seven starts.

The left-hander also split his two outings versus Baltimore earlier this year. The Orioles were 3-2 after five innings in Means’ five starts around his stints on the injured list and 7-3 in his 10 home starts. The conservative play is the best option here.

OVER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-110)

The five-inning over is 14-3-1 in New York’s last 18 games and improved to 9-5 after Tuesday’s contest. The hook offers some pause considering the teams have scored six or more runs in eight of the 14 meetings and reached five on three other occasions.

But the over is also 5-2-1 in Paxton’s eight road starts this year, including an earlier outing at Camden Yards, and 3-4-3 in Means’ 10 outings at home. Again, Paxton’s early issues and Means coming off the injured list offer just enough to think the over wins out.

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