BALTIMORE - Tonight will be a chance at redemption for the Orioles – in more ways than one.
If nothing else, tonight's game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is expected to feature Orioles starter Jason Hammel against Yankees ace CC Sabathia. It's a rematch of the first game in the AL division series. It's also a chance for the Orioles to finally have the offensive explosion that has been missing during the postseason.
In the loser goes home to watch the playoffs on TV scenario, tonight's game also gives the Orioles yet another chance to disprove those who have doubted them this season. It's a topic that players and coaches have spoken openly about in press conferences and meetings.
Hammel, who was very vocal about the criticism before the series opener, says the critics mean nothing to the team.
"It's a bunch of people telling us that we couldn't do anything," Hammel said. "So, obviously, we were supposed to finish last. That didn't happen. We weren't supposed to get to the playoffs. That didn't happen."
While Hammel didn't come away with the win in their first matchup of the division series, Orioles coach Buck Showalter says he matched Sabathia well.
Sabathia threw 120 pitches for 80 strikes and seven strikeouts during the 7-2 win. He pitched a total of eight innings.
Hammel threw 112 pitches for 70 strikes and five strikeouts. His regular season record against the Yankees was 0-1.
Sabathia's regular season record against the Orioles was 0-2. Several Orioles have had successful bats against Sabathia, leading those is J.J. Hardy with 4 RBIs.
Hardy is expected to have plenty of momentum going into tonight's game, after a series-saving double in the top of the 13 th inning of game four that gave the Orioles the 2-1 win.