The New York Yankees are on fire at the plate and will be licking their chops against struggling veteran Ubaldo Jimenez and the sliding Baltimore Orioles when the teams complete a four-game series at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. The Yankees have taken the first three games of the set by a combined score of 30-10, hammering three home runs in Saturday’s 9-3 win to stay within three games of first-place Boston in the American League East.
New York, which has won 11 of its last 14, has scored 150 runs in 18 games against Baltimore this season, a record for one team against another since expansion in 1961. Didi Gregorius has two homers and seven RBIs in the last two games for the Yankees while Chase Headley is hitting .364 during a season-high 14-game hitting streak. While New York is solidifying its position atop the wild-card race, the Orioles have virtually dropped out of contention with losses in nine of their last 10 games. Jimenez, who has given up 12 runs in 7 2/3 innings over two starts against the Yankees this year, opposes Sonny Gray in the finale.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, MASN (Baltimore), YES (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17)
Jimenez has not produced a quality start since July 31, giving up three runs in five innings at Toronto his last time out. The 33-year-old is 0-3 with a 9.27 ERA over his last five starts, with one scoreless inning of relief against the Yankees sprinkled into the difficult stretch. He has been knocked around by several New York regulars, including Matt Holliday (6-for-16, one home run), Jacoby Ellsbury (7-for-20, one home run), Brett Gardner (8-for-23, two home runs) and Gregorius (4-for-10).
Gray is 1-2 in three September starts despite posting a 2.61 ERA and striking out 23 batters against four walks. Home runs have been an issue, however, as the Vanderbilt product has served up five long balls this month after allowing three over his previous 10 starts. Gray kept the ball in the park and limited the Orioles to one unearned run in 5 2/3 innings at Baltimore on Sept. 7.
1. Yankees 3B Todd Frazier also went deep Saturday and has four home runs and 12 RBIs over his last nine games.
2. Baltimore has been held to three runs or fewer nine times during its 1-9 stretch.
3. Gray took the spot of CC Sabathia, whose start was bumped to Tuesday in order to allow him to avoid pitching on the turf in Toronto next weekend.
PREDICTION: Yankees 9, Orioles 2