The New York Yankees challenge the Baltimore Orioles in Game One of the American League Division series Sunday night at Camden Yards.
The two teams that battled for the AL East crown during the season’s final month renew their rivalry, and square off in the playoffs for the first time since 1996’s AL championship series.
Baltimore nearly erased New York’s 10-game division lead by going 46-24 compared to the Yankee’s 37-33 record in the second half, but dropped two of their last three games against the Tampa Bay Rays.
As a result, the Orioles faced the Texas Rangers in a one-game wild card playoff Friday and prevailed 5-1 behind starter Joe Saunders superb six innings with one earned run, and a pair of RBIs by left fielder Nate McLouth.
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The Yankees rested and awaited the winner of Friday’s contest, and now will start veteran left-hander C.C. Sabathia, who boasts a 16-4 career record against Baltimore, but went 0-2 in three starts this season.
Baltimore’s Jason Hammel will pitch against a Yankee lineup that scored the second most runs in all of baseball this season. Hammel was 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA this season, but has only pitched twice since July 17 due knee surgery.
New York turns to shortstop Robinson Cano, who may be the hottest hitter in baseball. For the month of September, Cano posted a .392 average with nine doubles, 15 RBIs and 22 runs.
Prediction: With the season series knotted at 9-9 and Baltimore hosting their first playoff game since 1997, Orioles fans will give their team a huge home field advantage. New York will look to quiet the crowd early with some quick runs, but if the game is tight at the end, Baltimore will win.
Predicted Score: Baltimore 6, New York 3