The Orioles are learning a lot about themselves on this west coast swing. They are currently 4-3 against three of the best teams in all of baseball. It can easily be argued that they should have won two of three in Oakland and swept the Angels, pushing the record to 6-1. No matter what the numbers actually are, it is obvious that the boys from Baltimore can hang with the big dogs of the American League. Tonight, they face the biggest of them all: Seattle's King.
RHP Felix Hernandez, Seattle
2014 stats: 21 G, 11-2, 2.02 ERA, 151.1 IP, 107 H, 5 HR, 29 BB, 163 SO, .197 BAA, 0.90 WHIP
Last start (@ LA Angels on July 19): 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 9 SO
Not enough can really be said here. He is on pace for career bests in just about everything. He has never walked fewer batters, struck out more, or allowed fewer runs. This is a matchup sure to test the mettle of the Orioles offense.
One statistic to exploit could be the batting average on balls in play. For his career, King Felix is pretty average with a number of .298. However, he has been a tad lucky in 2014, posting a low .267. It is a result of being completely nasty on the mound, but that number has room to bloat.
It would be nice to see the Orioles fight tonight. They aren't expected to get a ton of runs. They just need to foul off good pitches, lay off balls out of the zone and hit what they are given. This team is good enough to do all of those things; even Chris Davis.
RHP Kevin Gausman, Baltimore
2014 stats: 8 G, 4-3, 4.04 ERA, 42.1 IP, 44 H, 2 HR, 15 BB, 32 SO, .273 BAA, 1.39 WHIP
Last start (@ Oakland on July 20): 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 6 SO
The Gas-man had a rough go of it his last time out. No excuses can really be made. He just, flat out, got hit around by the Athletics. Looking for a silver lining? Always. He struck out six in four innings. Getting that third strike has proved difficult for the righty in 2014. He averages just 6.80 per nine; way down from his 9.25 as a rookie.
It is possible that his pitching style will lend itself to Safeco. He allows slightly above average line drives and fly balls. That may make his 0.43 home runs per nine innings go down even more.
On top of that, he has allowed a .323 batting average on balls in play in 2014. That will not stay that high. It will surely creep down closer to the league average of right around .300.
Orioles (w/ career stats against Rodriguez)
|RF Nick Markakis (L)||13-for-28, .464 BA, 2 2B, 5 BB, 3 SO|
|LF Steve Pearce (R)||none|
|CF Adam Jones (R)||8-for-26, .308 BA, 1 3B, 1 BB, 5 SO|
|DH Nelson Cruz (R)||15-for-59, .254 BA, 3 2B, 4 HR, 3 BB, 17 SO|
|1B Chris Davis (L)||8-for-30, .267 BA, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 8 SO|
|SS J.J. Hardy (R)||2-for-10, .200 BA, 3 SO|
|3B Ryan Flaherty (L)||1-for-2, .500 BA|
|C Caleb Joseph (R)||none|
|2B Jonathan Schoop (R)||none|
So, Hernandez is supposed to be good. No one told that to Jones or Markakis. The veteran outfielders have had a heck of a career against the King.
In his career Felix has pitched against the Orioles 15 times. He is 5-4 with a 3.44 ERA, walked 28 and struck out 80 in 96.2 innings.
Here are the numbers for some of the guns on the bench: Manny Machado (1-for-3), David Lough (1-for-3), Delmon Young (3-for-17), and Nick Hundley (2-for-14)
|RF Endy Chavez (L)|
|CF James Jones (L)|
|2B Robinson Cano (L)|
|DH Kendrys Morales (S)|
|3B Kyle Seager (L)|
|LF Dustin Ackley (L)|
|1B Logan Morrison (L)|
|C Mike Zunino (R)|
|SS Brad Miller (L)|
Morales is back in a Mariner uniform and the light hitting squad has injected him right into the cleanup spot. It's quite an indictment on how hungry for offense the team was.
There are a whole bunch of lefties. For the year, Gausman is allowing a .258 batting average against southpaws. Righties are a hitting a much more robust .284.
The only player with experience against the Oriole starter is the former Yankee, Cano. In three at-bats he is 2-for-3 with an RBI. Outside of that, nothing to speak of.