When these two teams met last weekend in Baltimore, the Orioles looked like world beater and the Yankees looked like whatever the opposite of that is for most of the series. Coming off a four-game sweep of the Twins, the Yankees will be looking to get a little revenge against their AL East rival and move a little closer toward second place.
#Yankees lineup vs BAL: Gardner CF, Ichiro RF, Cano 2B, Hafner DH, Wells LF, Overbay 1B, Cruz SS, Stewart C, Adams 3B, Nova P— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 5, 2013
If you've watched this team against the Orioles at all over the last two seasons, you know that Miguel Gonzalez has had the Yankees' number. Robinson Cano leads the team in at-bats against the O's right-hander with 15, but has only managed two singles against him with three strikeouts. Cano does enter the game on one of his notorious hot streaks, so maybe that will help level the playing field a bit. Only three batters in the lineup having a batting average against Gonzalez higher than the Mendoza line: Brett Gardner (.333), Travis Hafner (.286), and David Adams (.333) over a small sample size. Ichiro Suzuki is the only Yankee that has a homer against Gonzalez.
On the flip side, Orioles hitters have done well against Ivan Nova in their previous match ups. Nick Markakis is 10-25 off Nova, while Matt Wieters (3) and Chris Davis (2) each have multiple homers off the Yankee righty. Nova will need to have the ground ball machine that made him so successful in 2011 working tonight in order to contain the O's.
Al Yellon, manager of our sister site Bleed Cubbie Blue, wrote a fantastic piece today responding to an article about the insinuation that Chris Davis must be on steroids to be producing the way he is. In the sports writing world today, whenever a guy hits a few more homers than he has before the immediate reaction is that he must be doing it with the help of a banned substance, which is totally cheap and unfair. Is it possible? Sure, of course it is. That's the way things are in baseball today. But Chris Davis has always been a huge guy with power for days. To assume that a player with that capability putting it together in his prime must be obtained by steroids is a matter of not paying attention.
The article Al responded to also went on to say that assuming steroids are the fuel behind Davis' emergence as one of the most dangerous power threats is the first thing that would cross an informed fan's mind. Really? There are people who will think that, of course, but I'd say that those people are fewer and farther between than those who think it's unfair to label every player with a good season as a steroid user.
Rampant speculation on the topic has gotten out of control. These guys may be using steroids or they may be totally clean and there is little way to know the difference without positive tests. Unless Davis tests positive for steroids, the fair thing to do is to appreciate another good hitter in the game putting it all together and fearing what that might mean when your favorite team has to pitch to him, not try to drag his name through the mud based on nothing but the fact that he was finally able to put the power tool he always had to use.