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Yankees looking forward to Orioles rematch at Yankee Stadium: ‘It’s gonna be a fun series’

The Yankees woke up with the best record in baseball on Monday, yet they entered the off day with the smallest division lead in the majors.

Only the Yankees have 50 wins through 74 games, but the Orioles are right behind them, as they were tied for the second-best record in the majors. At 47-24, Baltimore is just 1.5 games out of first place in the American League East as it readies for a three-game series in the Bronx, which begins Tuesday.

“It’s a really good team,” Aaron Boone said. “They’re very complete. They’ve had some injuries happen to their rotation. But their depth has served them well. They continue to get good starting pitching. They’ve been able to close out games, and they have a versatile and dynamic offense. They can beat you with power. They can beat you with speed. They can match up against you. They got a few guys they platoon with that are impactful against the other hand. So they’re a complete team, no doubt.”

As Boone mentioned, injuries have decimated the O’s rotation. After most recently losing Kyle Bradish, Baltimore will start Albert Suárez, Cade Povich and Cole Irvin against New York’s top-ranked offense.

The Yankees, facing baseball’s second-best offense in terms of runs scored, will turn to Nestor Cortes on Tuesday. Gerrit Cole will make his season debut on Wednesday before Luis Gil takes the mound on Thursday.

With Cole and Gil starting back-to-back games, the Yankees will get their first look at how they could potentially line up their rotation for a playoff series.

The Yankees and Orioles have already met once this season, as the Bombers dropped 3-of-4 at Camden Yards between April 29 and May 2. Three of those games were decided by two runs, including the Yankees’ lone win, and Aaron Judge was still days away from breaking out of his early-season slump.

The slugger was hitting .197 at the end of that series, but he’s since slashed a ridiculous .387/.503/.937 with 16 doubles, 20 home runs and 46 RBI over 40 games. Overall, Judge is now batting .299/.425/.686 and leading the majors with 26 home runs and 64 RBI.

“Looking forward to it,” Judge said of the rematch. “Another great ballclub. Excited to see them in the Bronx. It’s gonna be a fun series. Fans are gonna be excited, so we’re looking forward to it after the off day.”

With Judge now in top form, he has a chance to pad his home run lead over Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson, who is second in the majors with 22.

The 22-year-old shortstop is working on an MVP-caliber campaign of his own, though the Yankees held him to two hits the last time they faced him. One of those was a home run.

Asked what’s stood out the most about Henderson, Boone said, “The level of athlete that he is and the power and speed combination playing in the middle of the diamond, playing a premium position. The ability to hit the ball like a power hitter. And really, really run too, though.

“Just really an explosive athlete playing a premium position with a lot of power.”

Henderson can indeed do all of that, and he’s not the only Oriole who can run. Baltimore has five players that have swiped at least five bases this season, making them an interesting follow-up after the Red Sox took a weekend series from the Yankees by stealing nine bases on Sunday night.

Jose Trevino was behind the plate for all of them.

“I think it’s gonna be a good one coming back to the Bronx after a road trip, facing a good team,” the catcher said of Baltimore. “It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be a good one.”

While the Yankees are coming off their fourth series loss of the season, the Orioles just took 2-of-3 from the National League-leading Phillies. Before that, they did the same to the second-place Braves, who will visit Yankee Stadium later this week.

For now, the Yankees are focused on the Orioles. After losing the series in Baltimore earlier this season, they’ll look to return the favor at home.

“That’s a series and moment in time,” Boone said. “I think both teams have clearly established themselves as really formidable. But at the same time, it’s a marathon. That cliche is very true: we got a long way to go in all of this. All we can say right now is both teams are really good, really dangerous and with a lot of potential.”


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