Nationals @ Orioles lineups and game notes - July 10

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's lefty on lefty crime as Gonzalez and Chen start for the Nationals and Orioles, respectively. Nothing big in the lineups. Pearce in left, Cruz at DH, Joseph behind the plate. Frandsen starts at second for Washington.

The loss last night did not hurt as bad as it could have as the Angels battled back to take down the Blue Jays and keep the Orioles AL East lead at 2.5 games. Tonight could give the O's a free half game as Toronto is off, but it won't be easy. Washington is sending Gonzalez to the mound. His last three starts have been outstanding. Chen has struggled with mediocrity.

Pitchers

LHP Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore

2014 stats: 17 G, 8-3, 4.12 ERA, 98.1 IP, 16 HR, 18 BB, 69 SO, .284 BAA, 1.30 WHIP
Last start (vs. Texas): 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 4 SO, W

As unlikely as it may seem, Chen leads the Orioles in wins. This is despite his tendency to falter late in games and that huge batting average against of .284.

The thing he does so well that all of the other pitchers have to pick up on is that he forces hitters to beat him. He doesn't walk many; only averaging 1.65 per nine innings. It is a career low and the main reason that 110 hits allowed over 98 innings hasn't hurt him worse.

However, home runs have been an issue for him more this season than in years past. He has given up at least one long ball in four straight games and seven of the last nine. And he has to go deeper into games. He has not thrown seven innings since June 11. The bullpen cannot deal with so many short outings

LHP Gio Gonzalez, Washington

2014 stats: 13 G, 6-4, 3.52 ERA, 76.2 IP, 5 HR, 30 BB, 78 SO, .225 BAA, 1.20 WHIP
Last start (vs. Chicago Cubs): 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 SO, W

After missing a month with left shoulder inflammation, Gonzalez returned in mid June. Since then he has steadyily increased his outings by an inning each time. As you can see above, he went eight scoreless against the Cubs. In his last three starts he has tossed 21 innings without allowing a single earned run.

He has been so successful by avoiding the home run ball. Gonzalez averages 0.59 home runs per nine inning; a career low. And he is striking out a healthy amount with 9.16 per nine innings.

His pitch repertoire is made up of three pitches. Option number one, as with any good pitcher, is his fastball. He throws it about two-thirds of the time and comes in at 92-94 mph. The secondary pitch is his big 12-6 curveball that can make hitters look silly. And finally, is his changeup. It averages 83 mph and is being utilized by Gonzalez more this year than ever before.

Lineups

Washington (w/ career stats against Chen)

CF Denard Span (L) 0-for-4, .000 BA
3B Anthony Rendon (R) none
RF Jayson Werth (R) none
1B Adam LaRoche (L) 2-for-3, .666 BA, 1 HR, 3 BB
DH Ryan Zimmerman (R) 1-for-6, .167 BA, 1 SO
LF Bryce Harper (L) 2-for-5, .400 BA, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 SO
SS Ian Desmond (R) 1-for-5, .200 BA
C Wilson Ramos (R) none
2B Kevin Frandsen (R) none

Five of the members of today's lineup have faced Chen before. Most of them make up the middle of the order, but even they have small sample sizes so most of this can be thrown out. The biggest shakeup is Frandsen starting at second. He made a cameo in the first game but hasn't been seen much.

On the bench: Jose Lobaton (3-for-8 against Chen with five strikeouts) and Danny Espinosa (1-for-6 with a double and three strikeouts)

Baltimore (w/ career stats against Gonzalez)

RF Nick Markakis (L) 5-for-16, .313 BA, 1 2B, 1 BB, 3 SO
LF Steve Pearce (R) 2-for-6, .333 BA
CF Adam Jones (R) 4-for-19, .211 BA, 1 2B, 3 SO
DH Nelson Cruz (R) 0-for-10, .000 BA, 4 BB, 3 SO
1B Chris Davis (L) 1-for-6, .167 BA, 1 BB, 3 SO
SS J.J. Hardy (R) 2-for-10, .200 BA, 1 BB, 2 SO
3B Manny Machado (R) 2-for-3, .666 BA, 1 2B, 1 BB
C Caleb Joseph (R) none
2B Jonathan Schoop (R) none

Ok, so some good, a lot bad. Oh my, Cruz. He is sitting with an 0-for after 10 times facing the lefty. Not great. Jones' struggles are surprising with the way he has been handling lefties.

As for the bench, Delmon Young (4-for-20 with two walks and four strikeouts) and Nick Hundley (0-for-6, four strikeouts) have seen him. Today is another occasion where it would be nice to have Matt Wieters (8-for-14 with a double and a home run against Gonzalez).

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