After back to back extra inning affairs to begin the series, the Yankees and Orioles get set to play the rubber match of the three game set at Camden Yards. Another good pitching matchup in this one slates Hiroki Kuroda against Jason Hammel and has the Yankees listed as -112 favorites to take the series.
Hiroki Kuroda has been nothing short of sensational this year, posting a sub-2 ERA with a WHIP of a minuscule 0.95. Five weeks ago, Kuroda took the ball against this same Orioles team at Yankee Stadium and spun a 5-hit, complete game shutout of Baltimore in a Yankees’ win. He looks to have similar success on the road against a pretty tough Baltimore batting lineup. Kuroda is also coming off of an eight inning performance where he allowed just two hits. As far as career success goes, Baltimore has not had much against the 38-year-old from Japan. In 105 career at-bats against Kuroda, Baltimore players have reregistered just 21 career hits for a perfect .200 batting average. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are the only two Orioles to have had any bit of small sample size success vs. Kuroda. Jones has three hits in 10 at-bats and Markakis is four for 11. Expect another deep outing for Kuroda that takes him into the seventh or eighth inning with a chance that he hands the ball right to Mo Rivera to try and close the door shut.
The home team counters with a veteran of its own in Jason Hammel. After a steller year last season, Hammel has an ERA of 5.72 and a WHIP over 1.50 despite a nice looking record of 5-2. Hammel also had a start in that same series Kuroda did in the Bronx and constantly worked out of trouble to piece together a fairly nice outing. Hammel worked over six innings and just surrendered two runs despite giving up eight hits to the Yankees who will be a little healthier with the return of Curtis Granderson in this series. As a team, the Yankees have a solid .291 batting average vs. Hammel but that does include nice numbers from the injured Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Even so, the Yankees replacements have exceeded beyond anyone’s expectations this season and look to stay hot against the very hittable Hammel. Robinson Cano has been a monster in his career vs. the right-hander with a .385 batting average in 26 at-bats against Hammel. Cano has provided All-Star leadership to anchor a lineup that is filled with a lot of older journeymen such as Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and others. Brett Gardner has shined in the leadoff spot hitting ahead of Cano and the Yankees left-handers should be able to do some damage against Hammel who has a .307 batting average split against lefties he has faced this season.
Kuroda is simply too hot to not back him in this spot. Hammel has been solid for Baltimore but the Yankees should certainly be able to push across two or three, which very well could be enough for how well Kuroda has been shutting teams down this season. Drop some juice on the road favorite here.
Free Pick: Yankees -112