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Yankees vs. Orioles Game Preview & Lineups: Q&A with Mark Brown of Camden Chat

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Checking in with our Orioles counterpart to get a read on the Birds before the Yankees' first 2015 series at Camden Yards.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees hit the road for the first time this season, traveling south to take on the 2014 AL East champions at Camden Yards. Michael Pineda kicked his season off strong against the Blue Jays, and he'll have another tough lineup to navigate tonight against the Orioles. Camden Chat's managing editor, Mark Brown, was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the Orioles ahead of the upcoming series. I also answered five questions for Mark that you can check out by clicking here and heading over to Camden Chat.

1. Please explain what black magic you used to make Steve Pearce good. Can you share it with us please?

Mark: Pearce was quite a story in the 2014 season, made all the more unlikely by the fact that he only started one game in April and was briefly in DFA limbo before returning to become what he became. I'm sure if you asked him how he did it, he'd probably tell you something about making an adjustment to his batting stance, and maybe there's something to that. I think part of it is just that he was a late bloomer and the Orioles happened to be the team that was giving him the chance when he finally put it all together.

Also, he only had 383 PA last year, which makes me think the O's planned when to use him and when not to use him based on when they thought he'd have the best chance for success. It worked out well enough last year, and though Pearce already has two homers this year, I'm not sure they can pull it off again.

2. Like the Yankees in getting back Alex Rodriguez, the Orioles have Chris Davis back after he was suspended 25 games for improper Adderall use last season. Does it seem like the fans have welcomed him back with open arms? How has he looked since his return?

Mark: I think that more Orioles fans were exasperated by Davis' sub-Mendoza batting average last season than by his suspension for a second positive test for a stimulant. The reaction to the suspension was more along the lines of, "Well, hell, if he was on drugs, why'd he still suck so much?" Davis himself maintains the Adderall was never about trying to get an edge on the diamond. Maybe he's right. In a way, his suspension freed the O's of the burden of being obligated to play the guy who hit 53 home runs the year before just in case he figures it out.

Of course it's hard to make any pronouncements based on five games, but supposedly a big part of his problem last year was a lingering oblique injury that sapped his opposite field power. His one home run so far this year went to the opposite field. O's fans are hoping that proves to be a good sign.

3. How do you feel about how the Orioles have chosen to use Kevin Gausman? Are you okay with him being a great bullpen weapon for now, or do you think they are doing him a disservice by keeping him out of the rotation?

Mark: Gausman should be in the rotation. End of story. It's past time. I think/hope that the Orioles have a plan that will end up with him in the rotation by season's end and it is quite possible that this is a way of limiting his innings for the first month or so of the season. Heck, I'm just glad they didn't dump him in the minors by virtue of his being one of the few players on the pitching staff who can be optioned this year.

In the meantime, I'm trying to find the silver lining in having a fireballer available in the bullpen. Pitch F/x recorded him with a max velo of 101.3 mph (!) in a relief outing against the Rays. Although what good is triple digit heat if you also walk four guys in 3.2 innings?

4. The Orioles have a few of their big names approaching free agency, like Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. What do you think the chances are of them staying in Baltimore beyond this year? Are there any players you’d particularly like to see the team extend in the near future?

Mark: I'm resigned to the fact that pretty much all of the free agents are going to be gone, especially the big name ones like Wieters and Davis. Those two are Boras clients. More importantly, next year will be the age 30 season for each player. Someone out there will probably pay them for what they've done rather than what they're going to do, and I just don't expect that they will be worth whatever contracts that they end up getting. It'll be tough to lose either player in the short term, though I think that will be best in the long term.

The player I'd most like to see the Orioles extend is not one of their pending free agents. I hope they get Manny Machado locked up while they can. He is a great young player and I'd like to see him set up to be the next great Orioles franchise player. I figure the reason they haven't yet is because they want to see him finish a full season healthy first. I think that's a reasonable enough concern, though he could well turn in such a fantastic 2015 that all they've done by waiting is drive up the price tag.

5. It has been a bit of an offensive explosion out of the gate for the Orioles so far this season. Is that something you expect to see carry the team all year, or have they just lucked into an incredibly hot start with the bats?

Mark: The Orioles lead the majors in home runs last year and through six games they lead the majors in home runs again. I think they will continue to be a team that lives and dies by the home run or lack of the home run. They scored 705 runs last year, not the MLB leaders but among the top teams. This bunch should be capable of generating a similar amount of offense. I am much more worried about the extent that the pitching and defense will be able to combine to prevent runs to separate the O's from the pack. If I have to worry about the Orioles offense, the season is probably a lost cause, so there's no point in worrying about them.

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Here's tonight's starting lineup. In roster move news, the team has also called up Joel De La Cruz to be the new long reliever.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $125,000 one-day fantasy baseball league today. It's $2 to join and first place wins $10,000. Enter now! Here's the link.