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Orioles Review and Preview: Indians, Yankees

Baltimore managed to split a four-game series against the visiting Cleveland Indians this weekend to bring their post-all-star-break record to 14-29. Sadly for the Orioles, the end of the Indians series also marked the end of the easy part of their schedule.

The Orioles have 10 series left this season against six teams, four of whom are over .500. Breaking it down into games, Baltimore has 22 of its 31 remaining contests against teams with winning records including a five-game road trip next week against Boston and New York. Not good.

So is the Orioles season done? Yeah, I'd say so. But that doesn't mean the team can't manage to improve and see what its young players are made of. Rookie pitcher Brian Matusz, for example, delivered the best performance of his young career in Sunday's series finale, striking out eight over seven innings of one-run ball in a 5-2 win over the Indians.

Of course the Indians aren't the cream of the crop and the Orioles still must fight their way through a forest of contending teams. That fight begins tonight at home against the Yankees.

The eldest members of each team's starting rotation will pitch opposite each other tonight as Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie (30, average age of rest of rotation: 23) faces Andy Pettitte (35, 27 years, eight months). Guthrie will look to win three games in a row for the first time since early August 2008. Pettitte is also on a tear, after a rough July where he went 1-3 with a 4.82 ERA in five starts, the Yankees stalwart is 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in five August starts.

Tuesday's second game of the series will feature rookie David Hernandez going against A.J. Burnett. Hernandez is coming off a gutsy showing in a 5-4 loss against Cleveland on Thursday, an effort that got him a no-decision. Burnett has struggled through the month, compiling a 0-4 record in six starts while also carrying around a brutal 6.03 ERA. Burnett probably can't wait to get to this September 1 start.

The series finale on Wednesday features what looks to be a mismatch of epic proportions as Baltimore rookie Jason Berken (4-11) face New York ace CC Sabathia (15-7) who is tied for the AL lead in wins. Of course Berken did outduel Chicago's Mark Buehrle, he of the perfect game, two weeks ago so anything is possible. Berken is riding consecutive wins for the first time in his nascent career and is coming off of his best month, having earned a 13-4 win over the Indians on Wednesday, allowing two runs over five innings. Berken went 3-3 in August though he still had a garish 6.59 ERA in the month.

Fittingly, Sabathia's best month as a Yankee was significantly better than Berken's best month in Baltimore. Sabathia was 5-0 in six starts this month with a 2.64 ERA while averaging a little over eight strikeouts per outing.

So how do the Orioles stack against the Yankees' trio of pitchers? Pretty poorly. Pettitte is known for giving Baltimore batters fits but Burnett and Sabathia are pretty good as well. Pettitte is 25-6 against Baltimore over his 15-year career. Burnett is 7-1 while Sabathia is 9-1. Combined, the three are 41-8 for their careers against Baltimore.

By CJ Holley  |  August 31, 2009; 3:56 PM ET
Categories:  Indians , Orioles , Yankees  | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Talking Behind Their Back, cleveland indians, new york yankees  
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