The Baltimore Orioles are thriving on the mound in the early going and now take on a struggling offense when the New York Yankees visit for the opener of a three-game series Friday night. Dylan Bundy struck out eight batters over seven innings to lead the Orioles to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, two days after six pitchers combined to help Baltimore secure a 3-2 victory in 11 innings.
The sweep allowed the Orioles to open 2-0 for the third straight season, including last year’s 7-0 burst. The Yankees had an uneven three-game set at Tampa Bay to open the campaign, dropping the rubber game 4-1 on Wednesday, and young standouts Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge combined to go 4-for-38 with 10 strikeouts, while veteran import Matt Holliday is 2-for-11. “They got off on a little slow start,” manager Joe Girardi told reporters, “but I’m not worried.” New York is hopeful for a rebound season for right-hander Luis Severino, who makes his 2017 debut in this one.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees RH Luis Severino (2016: 3-8, 5.83 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Ubaldo Jimenez (2016: 8-12, 5.44)
Severino had a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts in 2015 and was expected to be a prominent member of the rotation last year but struggled to put it together before being relegated to the bullpen. He was 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA in 11 starts and then had a stretch run in which he went 3-0 with an 0.39 mark as a reliever. The 23-year-old, who has a 4.12 ERA in five games (three starts) against Baltimore, posted a 3.38 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings this spring.
Jimenez makes his 299th career appearance and also hoping for a bounce-back effort after seeing his ERA soar over 5.00 last season for the first time since 2012. He did not face the Yankees in 2016 but has a 6.05 ERA in 11 career encounters. New York center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is 7-for-16 with a home run against the 33-year-old Jimenez.
1. Yankees 3B Chase Headley has seven of his team’s 26 hits through the first three games.
2. Orioles LH Zach Britton recorded his 50th consecutive save Wednesday.
3. Baltimore has won nine straight series at Camden Yards against New York.
PREDICTION: Orioles 5, Yankees 4