W2W4: Orioles at Yankees (April 30)

Jason Hammel Matchups to Watch

The former Rays draft pick is off to a sizzling start in 2012, his first year with the O's. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in each of his first four starts, and has held the No. 1 and No. 2 batters in the lineup to a combined 2-for-23 with nine strikeouts this season.

Alex Rodriguez has six hits in 15 at-bats (.400) against Hammel, and four of those six hits have left the park. His ridiculous 1.200 slugging percentage versus Hammel is his second-best against any active pitcher he's faced at least 15 times. A-Rod has gone deep in each of his last two at-bats against Hammel, but both of those came in September 2008.

Look for Raul Ibanez to get a start on Monday, as he brings a healthy .357 average versus Hammel into the game. Ibanez has a history of hitting Hammel hard. Each of the 10 balls he's put into play has been either a line drive or deep flyball and five have resulted in hits, including one home run.

Hiroki Kuroda Matchups to Watch

Kuroda is coming off a strong start against the Rangers, in which he held their potent lineup to just two runs on five hits in six innings.

Kuroda had his splitter working in that game, as the Rangers went hitless in six at-bats ending in the pitch. He threw 13 of his 14 splitters out of the strike zone, and the Rangers swung at eight of them (62 percent), missing on half of those swings.

The only Oriole Kuroda has faced more than three times is Mark Reynolds, who has .190 batting average against Kuroda and has struck out in 40 percent of his at-bats versus the Japanese righty.

Kuroda has done a nice job pitching away to Reynolds recently. Of the 48 pitches he's thrown to him since 2009, half of them have been outside or on the outer part of the strike zone. That's a good strategy against Reynolds, who has just two hits in 21 at-bats (.095) ending in pitches thrown to that location in 2012.

Jeter Meter

Derek Jeter has a .396 batting average entering this game, looking for a few more hits on Monday to surpass his best April batting average, which was .398 in 2006. Only one Yankee in the last 50 seasons has hit above .400 in April: Paul O'Neill hit .448 in 1994.

Bird Watching

Since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954, only one player has more homers against the Orioles than A-Rod's 57 (Harmon Killebrew has 68) and no one has more RBI than A-Rod's 187.

Jeter has 317 hits against the Orioles, third-most since 1954 behind Al Kaline (326) and Carl Yastrzemski (363), and his 64 doubles are surpassed only by Yaz's 83.

Rotation Relief

CC Sabathia gave the Yankees a rare quality start on Sunday afternoon in the rubber match against the Tigers, holding them to two runs in eight innings. That lowered the Yankees rotation ERA to 6.08 this season entering the final game of the month.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only once before in franchise history have the Yankees finished the month of April with a starters ERA above 6.00: in 1950, they had a 6.22 ERA in 10 games. The worst April ERA with more than 10 games was by the 2007 squad, which had a 5.94 ERA in 23 games.