New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles: 5 Biggest Matchups in Game 2 of ALDS
Game 1 of the Yankees vs. Orioles ALDS matchup is in the books.
Pitching dominated the first eight innings of the game before New York was able to bunch some hits together in the ninth inning and ice the game.
The Orioles don't have time to feel sorry for themselves—that's what great about baseball. Both teams must turn around the next night and battle to win a crucial Game 2.
Here are some of the key matchups, followed by a prediction of the game's outcome.
1) Wei-Yin Chen vs. the Bronx Bombers
Chen was a rock in the Orioles rotation all season, leading the team in games started and innings pitched.
What’s concerning in this Game 2 matchup is his tendency to give up the long ball. Chen surrendered 29 home runs this season, which was tied for 10th in the league. New York led all of baseball by a comfortable margin with 245 homers.
Chen needs to keep the ball down in the strike zone; in a hitter’s park like Camden Yards, games can change quickly with one swing of the bat. Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are especially dangerous in this contest, as the former has led the Yankees in home runs the past two seasons, while the latter had two hits and an RBI in Game 1 and could get hot quickly.
2) Andy Pettitte's October Pedigree vs. Father Time
It’s tough to argue against Pettitte’s career numbers in October: 42 starts, 19 wins, a 3.83 ERA and 173 strikeouts. The last time he pitched in the postseason was 2010, when he finished with a 2.57 ERA.
The question is, can he pick up where he left off?
The Yankees are certainly counting on him to. The 40-year-old’s arm wasn’t overworked this year after his return from a brief retirement; he started only 12 games and missed July and August with an ankle injury.
After being activated from the disabled list, his three starts were solid. If he remains sharp and pitches like the Pettitte of old, Game 2 looks like a favorable matchup for the Yankees.
Keep an eye on the Orioles' Matt Wieters batting out of the cleanup spot, as the switch-hitting catcher went .323 against lefties this season. If he maintains that production behind Adam Jones, he could make things that much more difficult for the aging Pettitte.
3) Adam Jones vs. Another Southpaw
Adams Jones is the Orioles' best hitter and the centerpiece of their offense. In general, the top of their lineup didn’t accomplish much in Game 1; Baltimore’s All-Star outfielder needs to get things going to help reverse that trend.
Jones hit .292 against lefties during the regular season, but he was held hitless against CC Sabathia. He faces another southpaw in Andy Pettitte in Game 2.
The Orioles are a team that hits a lot of homers, but they don’t hit for a high average. Against the Yankees, they will need to do a better job of capitalizing on key situations and not relying as much on the long ball.
4) Alex Rodriguez vs. Playoff Demons
Alex Rodriguez is an easy target come playoff time, and brings most of it on himself.
After his terrific performance in the 2009 postseason when he helped the Yankees capture the world championship, A-Rod has returned to his status as a postseason goat.
He hit just .111 and .219 the last two Octobers, respectively, in addition to the fact that he hasn’t hit a home run in over 60 postseason at-bats.
Not much changed in Game 1 of the ALDS. A-Rod finished with no hits, a walk and three strikeouts. It’s fairly obvious that he has to be much better if the Yankees plan on advancing to the ALCS and beyond. This next game is very important for him.
5) Yankees Bullpen vs. Orioles Bullpen
This was a key matchup going into Game 1, and that shouldn’t change for the rest of the series.
The biggest difference heading into this next game is that the Yankee bullpen has only faced one batter, while the Orioles used five pitchers in the last four innings. A lot of pressure is going to be on Wei-Yin Chen to not only keep the score close, but also to save the bullpen from pitching too much.
It still remains to be seen how the Yankees will close out games without Mariano Rivera. His replacement, Rafael Soriano, pitched great in the regular season—but this is October, and no one did it better than Rivera.
Baltimore cannot afford another late-inning meltdown in Game 2. That goes especially for Jim Johnson, who, despite leading the AL with 51 saves during the regular season, pitched 0.1 innings of Game 1 and was rocked for five hits and five runs (four earned) in the ninth inning.
If the Orioles bullpen can't clean it up, they'll face the daunting task of having to win three straight in Yankee Stadium in order to advance.
Why the Yankees Will Take Game 2
It’s tough picking against Baltimore this year. The Orioles keep making a habit of winning when they’re not supposed to.
However, everything adds up to another Yankee victory in Game 2.
Andy Pettitte should live up to his high postseason standard, validating his return from retirement. The top of the Yankees lineup will likely continue to get on base, and their big bats won't have any trouble getting at least three home runs off of Wei-Yin Chen.
Baltimore won't be able to scrape enough runs together to make it interesting.
Yankees 7, Orioles 2
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