The last time the Orioles hosted the Yankees in September at Camden Yards, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis’ season ended when a CC Sabathia fastball broke his left thumb.
That event – which robbed Markakis of playing in the postseason for the first time in his career – actually happened exactly one year and one day ago. At the time, Markakis was hitting .335 from the leadoff spot after returning from hamate bone surgery. With one pitch, Markakis went from key contributor to spectator.
Asked before Monday’s game whether he believed Sabathia intended to injure Markakis, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that a lot of left-handed pitchers have to pitch inside to left-handed hitters to have success.
“I understand that,” Showalter said. “Nick understands that. Everybody understands that. Our pitchers understand that. … Do I think he went in there with malice and intended to do what happened? Of course not. … Every day you deal with that possibility. Spheres that are moving around at 90-something miles an hour don’t give you enough time to vacate where they’re headed.”
Markakis is hitting 5-for-14 with a .357/.357/.429 split line in three games against Sabathia this season after the injury. Markakis said the injury was never in the back of his mind since facing Sabathia.
“I’ve felt the same as I do when I’ve faced him any other time,” Markakis said “Just go up there and try and hit balls as hard as possible, just like I’ve got to do with any other pitcher. And as soon as it leaves the bat hope it hits a hole or ends up somewhere the position players aren’t.”
Showalter said Markakis’ success against left-handers -- he owns a .286/.340/.402 slash line versus lefties in his career – makes him susceptible to not being able to get out of the way of inside pitches from left-handers.
“If you start bailing, you’ve got no chance against the breaking ball,” Showalter said. “Guys who hit good pitchers’ breaking balls – right on right and left on left – don’t give and Nicky don’t give.”
Here’s what else is going on around the Orioles clubhouse:
-- Alexi Casilla, who is 16-for-31 in his career against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, is starting tonight at second base and batting ninth. Other than utilizing Casilla’s success against Sabathia, Showalter also said he wanted to give Casilla a start because he didn’t see much opportunity to get him another down the stretch with Brian Roberts playing well.
-- Markakis’ wife, Christine, is due to deliver the couple’s third child on Wednesday, but the plan is to induce in the morning on Wednesday to allow Markakis the opportunity to still play on Wednesday against the Yankees. Showalter said he considers Markakis “an if” for Wednesday.
-- Outfielder Steve Pearce, on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left wrist, received an injection in the wrist on Friday and has resumed light hitting activities. While he making his DL date of Sept. 12 will be a challenge, Showalter said Pearce shouldn’t take much more time to be ready.
-- Alex Liddi, who was designated for assignment Friday when the Orioles selected the contract of OF Chris Dickerson, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.
And here are the starting lineups for tonight’s game:
Nick Markakis RF
Manny Machado 3B
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Danny Valencia DH
JJ Hardy SS
Michael Morse LF
Matt Wieters C
Alexi Casilla 2B
Chris Tillman RHP
Brett Gardner CF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Ganderson DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Austin Romine C
CC Sabathia LHP