Series Preview: Orioles vs. Yankees, 11 - 13 July

Steve Pearce and Adam Jones go for the low-five with the Orioles in first place - Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The AL East-leading Orioles remain at home to finish up the first half against the division foe Yankees. Gonzalez, Jimenez, and Tillman will start for the Orioles. See YOU at the Yard.

Friday, 11 July (7:05pm) - Miguel Gonzalez vs. Hiroki Kuroda
2014 Stats Gonzalez (4-5)
Kuroda (6-6)
IP 81.0 109.1
ERA 4.22 4.20
FIP 5.20 3.94
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .284/.359/.484 .264/.306/.425

Game notes: Gonzalez has had quite an up and down first half.  He's been solid at times, including a stretch in May where he went 5 straight appearances without allowing more than 2 ER per game, and at times not so hot (see June).  Some of this can be attributed to a career-high 3.56 BB/9.  It may also be attributed to career-low effectiveness on many of his out-pitches.  Migo will look to finish the first half of the season on a strong note and carry some momentum into the second half.

A reason to watch: Another huge divisional series for the Orioles.  Oddly enough, it's the same comment as in the previous Yankees series.  The difference now is that the Orioles hold a 3 game lead over Toronto in the AL East (4 over New York).  This series is a huge chance for the Orioles to gain a little breathing room before a rough stretch following the AS break.

Scouting report: Kuroda had a very solid month of June - he posted a .586 OPS against - but hasn't started July with the same success.  He did use the month, however, to work on his L/R splits.  When the Orioles last saw the Yankees, Kuroda was allowing an LHB OPS against of 40 points higher than that of righties.  As of today, the split is now almost identical.  Kuroda utilizes a solid sinker/splitter/slider combo, even if he's lost a little velocity at age 39.  The splitter and slider are usually plus pitches.

Maybe hot: Chris Davis (.577 SLG, .877 OPS, 30 PA)

Maybe not: J.J. Hardy (.370 OPS, 27 PA)

Saturday, 12 July (4:05pm) - Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Shane Greene
2014 Stats Jimenez (3-8)
Greene(1-0)
IP 99.2 6.1
ERA 4.52 2.84
FIP 4.69 6.12
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .249/.359/.387 .174/.296/.304

Game notes: It's safe to assume that this isn't the pitcher the O's thought they were going to get when they doled out a 4 year, 50 million dollar contract in the offseason.  It's also probably safe to assume that Jimenez didn't think he'd be walking 5.5 batters per 9 innings.  In any case, Jimenez gets one more start in the first half.  All is not lost, however - Jimenez has his work cut out for him in the second half, but the key to his success is changing his approach against left-handed hitters.  He's walking them like crazy (41 through 236 BF as opposed to just 19 through 201 RH BF) and that has been his undoing.  He does tend to give up a fair number of homers, but his current stat isn't unreasonable.  He just wastes too many pitches through walks, leading to more work for himself and vastly shorter starts.

A reason to watch: PASTA DIVING JETER.  Somehow, this never gets old.

Scouting report: Shane Greene is a 25 year old righty who will make his second career start (third appearance).  His MiLB numbers are nothing to scream about:  29-43, 4.39 ERA, although he did post some decent FIPs at various minors levels.  Greene is a power sinker pitcher, relying heavily on his mid 90s sinking fastball and high-80s slider.  Like former Oriole Jim Johnson, he's tall (6'4), which gives him a good downward plane when tossing the sinker.  That pitch was highly effective during his first start and he'll look to continue that against a deceptively powerful Oriole offense that now ranks fourth in the MLB.

Maybe hot: Kelly Johnson (10 BB, .409 OBP, 45 PA)

Maybe not: Mark Teixeira (2-19, 8K, 21 PA)

Sunday, 13 July (8:05pm) - Chris Tillman vs. TBD
2014 Stats Tillman (7-4)
TBD
IP 111.2 -
ERA 4.11 -
FIP 4.55 -
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .249/.324/.400 -

Game notes: Like Jimenez, Tillman has also had his struggles against lefties.  He doesn't walk quite as many, but he's more prone to leaving pitches in hittable positions when facing LHB.  He had a rough May while dealing with a groin injury, but he's been bringing it back as the season moves along.  Last week, he dueled Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg pitch for pitch and has a chance to add a flourish on the O's solid first half.

A reason to watch: Tillman.  TBD.  Who will own it??  Seriously though, Chris Tillman on Sunday night baseball.  Hopefully he can toss a game like last week on national TV.

Scouting report: With Sabathia and Tanaka out due to injury, the Yankees will toss TBD in this game.  According to the official Orioles website, no starter has been named at the time of publishing.

Maybe hot: Jacoby Ellsbury (.522 SLG, .855 OPS, 24 PA)

Maybe not: Ichiro Suzuki (4-21, .381 OPS, 21 PA)
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