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Game 87: Orioles (48-38) @ Yankees (46-39), 7:05

The Orioles kick off a three-game series Friday in New York. Miguel Gonzalez faces off against Ivan Nova.

Jonathan Ernst

Last year, Miguel Gonzalez saved his best games for down the stretch, and in the playoffs, against the Yankees. Tonight, they need one of his big moments to rebound after losing a series against the Central's bottom-feeding White Sox. The stakes may not be as high, because it is July, and the Orioles are ten games over .500. Imagine two years ago, if someone told you that the Orioles would be ten games over .500 on July 5, 2013. You would have sent them to an insane asylum, and also cried.

Ten games over .500 is not good enough. We want more. Against the struggling Yankees lineup, wracked to the point where Yankees fans even find themselves missing the likes of Jayson Nix, this is the time to get some shutdown innings. It is still Yankee Stadium, and they are still a lot of fly ball pitchers, and they have to pitch against Robinson Cano. Well, you know. Nothing's perfect.

The Orioles had some hitting struggles of their own in Chicago, particularly relating to pitchers that throw left-handed and have a pulse. Ivan Nova is, luckily, not that kind of pitcher. We assume he has a pulse, though being as he is on the Yankees, we cannot be sure he is not a zombie or a robot, but in any case he is right-handed. He's also a ground-ball pitcher, but hey, they don't exactly have Manny Machado out there, so you never know.

Nova has a 4.63 ERA in the eight games he's pitched in this season, but he is striking out over a batter per inning pitched and is not giving up a ton of home runs. That's only in 35 innings on the season, so one bad outing could turn it all around. Or so could one good outing, which he may be due for: a .406 BABIP has probably got to come down, right? Hopefully not tonight.

There are Orioles hitters with outstanding career numbers against Nova. Nick Markakis has seen the most of Nova, with a 1.123 OPS in 29 PA. Matt Wieters has three career homers off of Nova, with a 1.500 OPS in 24 PA. Chris Davis has a pair of homers as well, sporting a 1.224 OPS in 17 PA. Those are encouraging omens for an offense that needs to remember it can score runs.

If they could at the very least maybe do us the favor of not striking out so much, that we might avoid the Devil's strikeout whistle, that would be ideal. And also, Orioles, please win it for the GIFs.

Nate McLouth - LF Brett Gardner - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Ichiro Suzuki - RF
Nick Markakis - RF Robinson Cano - 2B
Adam Jones - CF Travis Hafner - DH
Chris Davis - 1B Vernon Wells - LF
Matt Wieters - C Lyle Overbay - 1B
J.J. Hardy - SS Luis Cruz - SS
Ryan Flaherty - 2B Chris Stewart - C
Brian Roberts - DH David Adams - 3B