With the series knotted at 1-1 the New York Yankees host the Baltimore Orioles in Game Three of the American League Divisions series Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Baltimore took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning after first baseman Mark Reynolds singled to score catcher Matt Wieters and pitcher Wei-Yin Chen earned the win after going 6 1/3 innings with one earned run and scattering eight hits.
Baltimore’s bullpen was sharper in Game Two, giving up one hit with four strikeouts and one walk with no earned runs. Jim Johnson picked up the save after redeeming himself from his Game One outing, when he gave up five runs, four earned, in 1/3 innings.
Shortstop Derek Jeter slapped a single to left field in the seventh inning to score Eduardo Nunez to cut the lead to 3-2, but the Yankees offense ultimately stranded 10 men on base, failing to make a rally and the Orioles prevailed.
After two games, New York is 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
The Yankees hopes to change that trend with a better outing against rookie right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who had 17 strikeouts in his two wins against the Yankees this season. Gonzalez went 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA this season, and has won three out of his last five starts.
Taking the mound for New York is Hiroki Kuroda, who lost his last start against Baltimore on Aug. 31 giving up four earned runs and two home runs in 8 1/3 innings. Overall, Kuroda went 1-1 against the Orioles with a 2.93 ERA.
Kuroda picked up 11 of his 16 wins at home this season and New York closed the regular season winning 10 out of their final 11 home games.
That may help the Yankees take advantage of the new divisional round playoff schedule, as the next three games are scheduled at Yankee Stadium should the series go five.
An extended stay at home may not be the best thing for struggling Yankee power hitter Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez struck out in the final at-bat of Game Two, and since returning to the lineup on Sept. 3 has only six extra base hits.
Prediction: New York’s batters worked Chen for 112 pitches in Game Two, but failed to take advantage of the Orioles bullpen like they did in Game One. Much of the emphasis has been placed on Rodriguez, but the blame should be placed up and down the lineup. The Orioles continue to chip away, having scored all their runs on singles. Baltimore should push Kuroda to his limits and be aggressive on the bases early to take a 2-1 lead.
Predicted Score: Baltimore 6, New York 4