Yanks Favored Over O's

The New York Yankees will send pitcher Andy Pettitte to the hill Sunday to face Steve Trachsel and the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees are currently -183 on the money line.

Andy Pettitte has made a living out of delivering impressive starts for the New York Yankees in crucial situations.

The Yankees could use one of those performances right now.

New York will turn to its veteran left-hander on Sunday as it tries to avoid a fourth straight loss while avoiding a sweep of its three-game road series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made New York –183 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 10 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 82% of bets for this game have been placed on New York –183 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

The Yankees (9-10) have lost three in a row, and their spotty play the first three weeks has been primarily due to their inconsistent starting pitching. Their 5.74 ERA through 19 games is third-worst in the majors.

That ERA was nearly one-half run lower before New York traveled to Baltimore (11-7) on Friday. The Yankees got two more poor performances from young starters Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy against the Orioles, leaving those two with a combined 9.27 ERA with 23 total walks through four starts apiece.

Kennedy walked five Saturday and lasted just 2 2-3 innings in the Yankees' 6-0 loss at Camden Yards.

"It's as simple as throwing strikes,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. I am not a mechanics guy. You've got to throw strikes."

Pettitte (2-1, 3.38 ERA) has done just that for most of his career, and he's looked sharp in each of his last two outings, both road wins. He lasted seven innings, allowing three runs, in New York's 5-3 win at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

"All of my pitches were working for the first time," Pettitte said after beating the Rays. "I'm definitely pleased with where it's going. Each game has gotten better and better."

Pettitte was 2-1 with a 4.55 ERA against the Orioles last season, and his 22 lifetime wins are his most against any opponent in his career. He is 22-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 32 starts and 34 overall appearances.

New York's pitching was a question mark coming into the season. Its offense, which scored nearly six runs per game last season - the most in the majors since 2000 - was supposed to be one of baseball's best once again.

But the Yankees have averaged only 4.1 runs in 2008, and they've scored only seven total in losing their last three.

"We expect to put runs on the board and expect to give the opposing pitcher fits," said center fielder Johnny Damon, who's batting just .197, to the team's official Web site. "We're too good of a team not to be able to (score). We need to figure things out."

Baltimore has been one of baseball's biggest surprises so far, and it's been paced by a balanced offense that features six players with at least eight RBIs.

One of those run producers is first baseman Kevin Millar, who had two hits - including his third home run - in Saturday's win.

"I think we're playing good team baseball and everybody's contributing and that's a good thing," said Millar, who's hitting .362 with seven homers in his last 29 games against New York.

Pettitte will be opposed on Sunday by another veteran starter, Steve Trachsel (1-2, 5.65). The right-hander was impressive in his first two starts, allowing only four earned runs in 12 innings, but he was hit hard Tuesday against Toronto.

Trachsel lasted just 2 1-3 innings, giving up five runs in Baltimore's 11-3 loss.

"No fastball command, and I was pitching behind in the count from the very beginning," Trachsel told the Orioles' official Web site. "I can't do that. It's just a bad, bad start."

Trachsel is 4-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 10 career starts against the Yankees, and he's fared well against two of their better hitters. Alex Rodriguez is just 5-for-22 (.227) against Trachsel, while Hideki Matsui is 0-for-9.

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