The Orioles' series this weekend against the New York Yankees, who are just a game and a half ahead of them for the eighth and final playoff spot in the American League, is the most important the team has played in years.
It will now be a little shorter.
Inclement weather caused Thursday’s series opener at Yankee Stadium to be postponed. It will be made up as part of a seven-inning doubleheader Friday at 4:05 p.m.
Combined with the regularly scheduled matinees for Saturday and Sunday, the four games represent a chance for the 20-22 Orioles to pull even with or ahead of the struggling Yankees and turn this into a legitimate playoff race.
“I like that we’re playing games that matter late in the year,” manager Brandon Hyde said Thursday afternoon. "I think that’s how you improve, that’s how you grow character as a team or build character as a team. I think that that’s what you play for all year, to play until the end of the season in games that mean a lot. For our guys to put themselves, even though this is a short year and a sprint type of season, for our guys have put themselves in a position to play this weekend in a series that matters, it’s a lot of credit to our players and how well they’ve been playing.
Though the Orioles took three of four from the Yankees last weekend at Camden Yards, Hyde knows a repeat isn’t a given.
“We know what we’re up against here,” he said. “Playing a really good club. Gerrit Cole is excellent. It’s going to be a dogfight this weekend, and we know that. I think our guys are up for it.”
Cole will start the opening game of the doubleheader. Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will start Game 2 opposite rookie left-hander Keegan Akin.
Hyde said Alex Cobb, who has been on the injured list created for players exposed to or testing positive for COVID-19 since last Friday for unspecified reasons, will be activated Friday as long as he passes protocols. He’s scheduled to pitch the first game.
“He’s been throwing, so he’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” Hyde said.
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Right-hander Dean Kremer will start Saturday, and left-hander John Means will start Sunday for the Orioles.