Live from Camden Yards: Orioles hope to end Sabathia’s Baltimore dominance


BALTIMORE — After rain washed out the opener of a three-game set between the Orioles and Yankees for the second time this season (the other coming in the Bronx on April 12), the teams return to Camden Yards for the start of an abbreviated two-game series Saturday night.

After going 5-13 against the Yankees in 2010, the struggling Orioles (8-10) — losers of nine of their last 11 — were swept in an abbreviated two-game set last week in the Bronx and will try to muster some runs against the dominating CC Sabathia. The Yankees ace remains winless on the season despite a 2.52 earned run average in four starts. Sabathia owns a 14-2 career record against Baltimore, which is the highest winning percentage all-time against the franchise since 1954.

“I think what a lot of people miss about Sabathia is what a pitcher he is,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said on Friday before the postponement. “This guy’s evolved into quite a pitcher, not a thrower. You look at the percentage of fastballs that he throws earlier in the season compared to later in the season, he understands when he’s carrying that stuff and he’s not.”

Sabathia has flourished throughout his career at Camden Yards, going 8-1 with a 2.97 ERA. His only loss in Baltimore came on Opening Day 2009, the burly southpaw’s first start in a Yankee uniform.

His dominance over the Orioles was especially evident a season ago when he went 5-1 with a 3.56 ERA against the Orioles, becoming the ninth pitcher all-time and fourth Yankee to beat Baltimore five times in a season since 1954. The others were Andy Pettitte (six in 2003), David Wells (five in 2002), and Whitey Ford (five in 1959 and 1960).

Sabathia will be opposed by Brad Bergesen, who will make his third start of the season after a brief demotion to Triple-A Norfolk in which he actually remained in Baltimore before being recalled. In his three career starts against the Yankees, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA. Bergesen appeared in relief against the Yankees on April 13, striking out two in two innings of work.

After struggling to command his sinker for much of 2010 and turning to his four-seam fastball in the season’s final months, Bergesen believes he’s recaptured the feel for the pitch, which will loom large against a Yankees lineup that leads the big leagues in home runs (30) and slugging percentage (.490) entering Saturday’s games.

In contrast, the Orioles rank 12th in homers (19) and 19th in slugging (.378) among the 30 major league teams.

And after scoring just 37 runs in their last 11 games — 11 coming in the shutout victory over the Twins on Tuesday night — the Orioles need to get the bats going in a big way to prevent Sabathia’s dominance from continuing at The Yard tonight.

Here are tonight’s starting lineups:

New York
SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson CF
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
DH Jorge Posada
C Russell Martin
LF Brett Gardner

SP CC Sabathia (0-1, 2.52 ERA)

2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
1B Derrek Lee
DH Vladimir Guerrero
CF Adam Jones
3B Mark Reynolds
C Matt Wieters
LF Jake Fox
SS Robert Andino

SP Brad Bergesen (0-2, 3.38 ERA)