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Orioles @ Pirates lineups and game notes - May 20

The O's send Miguel Gonzalez to the mound to face Pittsburgh's lefty, Francisco Liriano. Let's see some pitchers hitting.

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Greg Fiume

Losing two games in a row is never fun, especially when you have to let it stew for over forty-eight hours. The O's had a chance to relax and get a goodnight's sleep in their hotel rooms. The team they face has struggled. In fact, the Birds have already beaten them twice. You don't let a wounded animal back into the fight.

Wow, that was kinda intense. Let's play some baseball!

Time: 7:05 ET Place: PNC Park  (Pittsburgh, PA)
RadioBAL - 1090 AM WBAL, Orioles Radio Network, PIT - KDKA-FM 93.7
TV: BAL - MASN 2, PIT - ROOT Sports


LHP Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh

2014 stats: 9 G, 0-3, 4.25 ERA, 48.2 IP, 45 H, 22 BB, 49 SO, .243 BAA, 1.38 WHIP
Last start (@ Milwaukee): 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 SO, ND

Pitch Repertoire in 2014 (FanGraphs)

Pitch Type Usage Velocity
Fastball 39.0% 92.0
Slider 33.5% 84.7
Change-up 27.5% 85.2

Liriano really hasn't pitched all that bad this season. He deserves to have a better record than he does. Both his FIP (3.81) and his xFIP (3.51) are below his actual ERA and each are decent numbers. His strikeout rate of 9.06 is right on his career average. He is walking maybe a tick more hitters than average, but that is negligible.  

He is allowing more fly balls than he did a year ago. At this time, 28.1 percent of balls in play against Liriano are in the air. This has caused his number of home runs to increase; nearly one per nine innings pitched. His home runs per fly ball ratio is at a career high of 13.2 percent. 

Look for Liriano to try and stay down in the zone (DUH!). His last outing was the best he has pitched since Opening Day. His pitch selection last week against the Brewers nearly mirrored what he has done all year. It is all about location. He was around the knees, forcing the Milwaukee hitters to pound the ball into the ground 60 percent of the time.

RHP Miguel Gonzalez, Baltimore

2014 stats: 8 G, 7 GS, 4.76 ERA, 39.2 IP, 43 H, 15 BB, 35 SO, .274 BAA, 1.46 WHIP
Last start (vs. Houston): 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 SO, ND

The last time we saw Miggy was a relief appearance against Detroit. He didn't do so well, allowing two runs (one earned) in just two innings of work. It has been a rough first quarter of the year for the right-hander. Everything is up. He is striking out a career high while also walking a career high and giving up far too many home runs. 

Part of it may be that he has snapped back to reality. After posting a batting average against on balls in play of just .260 in first two years in Oriole uniform, he has allowed a whopping .310 average on those same balls. 

Gonzo has to be walking on egg shells. He is the lame duck of the rotation at this moment. That leaves him on the chopping block. A nice start, following two straight losses, could go a long way to changing that. 


Orioles (w/ career stats against Liriano)

RF Nick Markakis (L) 5-for-14, .357 BA, 1 BB, 2 SO
3B Manny Machado (R) 1-for-2, .500 BA, 1 SO
CF Adam Jones (R) 4-for-15, .267 BA, 3 HR, 1 SO
1B Chris Davis (L) none
LF Nelson Cruz (R) 2-for-5, .400 BA, 1 2B, 1 BB, 3 SO
SS J.J. Hardy (R) 3-for-13, .231 BA, 1 BB, 2 SO
2B Jonathan Schoop (R) none
C Caleb Joseph (R) none
P Miguel Gonzalez (R) career batting: 4 PA, 0-for-3, 1 SO

Buck goes with the same lineup he has been sticking with against lefties. This one didn't seem to be so set in stone for a few reasons. 1. Liriano has done a better job with righties in 2014. They are hitting only .228 while lefties have mustered a .278 average and 2. Delmon Young swings well against Liriano; 4-for-8 with a double triple and home run. Expect Young, not Steve Pearce (1-for-2 off Liriano), to be the name off the bench if Pittsburgh's pitcher goes deep and/or Gonzalez doesn't go deep enough.

Pirates (w/ 2014 season stats)

RF Josh Harrison (R) .304/.328/.554, 4 2B, 2 HR
2B Neil Walker (S) .259/.339/..458, 6 2B, 9 HR
CF Andrew McCutchen (R) .301/.425/.468, 10 2B, 4 HR
3B Pedro Alvarez (L) .209/.309/.373, 8 HR, 39 SO
LF Starling Marte (R) .264/.331/.409, 4 HR, 12 SB, 51 SO
1B Ike Davis (L) .263/.378/.382, 6 2B
SS Jordy Mercer (R) .220/.262/.305. 7 2B
C Chris Stewart (R) .243/.275/.243
P Francisco Liriano (L) career batting: .089/.153/.089, 3 RBI

Only one player on their active roster has seen Gonzalez and that would be Chris Stewart. He has faced the Mexican six times and has managed only one hit. 

As a whole, this is a lineup that has under-performed. They do have that feeling of a dormant volcano awaiting to erupt. As Orioles fans, we should understand this scenario fairly well. Pitch very carefully, Miguel.

Game Notes

  • Dylan Bundy threw 18 pitches today. He allowed two home runs and his fastball was sitting at 90-92 mph. He is saying that his "arm felt great." 
  • Zach Britton with the lumber: 5-for-8 with a double and home run. Check out the home run.
  • Jones' three home runs off Lirano are tied for the most in baseball with Paul Konerko and Marcus Thames. 
  • Jones is also the leader in the AL in slugging percentage against lefties (.886). Second in the MLB to Justin Upton (.964)
  • Markakis is the leader of all active players in batting average in interleague play (.336)
  • The O's unveiled the Manny bobblehead that will be given away to the first 25,000 fans over 15 years old on June 7.
  • They also announced plans for 2014 Military Appreciation. Read all about it here.
  • As part of the celebration they will wear these hats on Memorial Day.
  • And just for funsies, check out this picture of the Seattle Seahawk's Russell Wilson with the Ironman, Cal Ripken Jr.

*Notes come from Orioles Public Relations and MASN's Roch Kubatko