Ball Star

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Breaking down the Yankees-Orioles first-round AL series

10/06/2012 1:19 PM

05/16/2014 7:54 PM

Schedule (best of five)

• 

Sunday:

New York at Baltimore, 5:15 p.m. (TBS)

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Monday:

New York at Baltimore, 7:07 p.m. (TBS)

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Wednesday:

Baltimore at New York, TBA (TBS or MLB)

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Thursday:

Baltimore at New York*, TBA (TBS)

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Friday:

Baltimore at New York*, TBA (TBS)

*if needed

Offense

The Orioles have some legitimate punch and, so far, have compensated for the late-season injury to reliable right fielder Nick Markakis. But the Yankees led the league in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage with a veteran lineup that grinds on pitchers like no other in the big leagues.

Advantage: Yankees Defense

The Yankees are a collection of steady, experienced hands who excel at making the routine play. They generally catch what they get to, throw to the right base, hit cut-off men, etc. Advanced metrics suggest their range isn’t particularly good and they take away few runs. Those same stats say the Orioles have better range but make more errors on routine plays. First rule on defense: Catch the ball.

Advantage: Yankees Starting pitching

The Yankees have a clear edge here with workhorse CC Sabathia, a rejuvenated Hiroki Kuroda and venerable Andy Pettitte. The Orioles, in contrast, have been piecing things together (and doing so magnificently) all season. It’s just that it’s tough to piece things together against the Yankees’ veteran lineup.

Advantage: Yankees Bullpen

Here is where the Orioles excel and a huge reason for their remarkable records in one-run games (29-9) and extra-inning games (16-2). Closer Jim Johnson heads a lockdown bullpen. The Yanks have a solid relief corps, but there’s no Mariano Rivera at the end. Rafael Soriano had a terrific year, but there’s only one Mariano.

Advantage: Orioles Bottom line

The two teams split 18 games this season and chased each other through the closing weeks before the Yankees won the division crown by two games. All rational analysis points to the Yankees, but it’s been a charmed summer in Birdland. Here’s saying it continues.

Prediction: Orioles in five

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