The Orioles have to face another lefty tonight, their third in a row. This time it's James Paxton, a 25 year old who has made just two starts this season. Both starts were in April and both were against the Angels. One was quite good (7 IP, 0 R), and the other was quite mediocre (5 IP, 4R/3ER). Paxton was expected early on to be part of the Mariners rotation, but he suffered a shoulder injury and today will be his first game back.
Paxton pitched 24 innings in 2013 so he is still considered a rookie. So, let's recap. Paxton is a rookie lefty that the Orioles have never seen making just this third start of the season. Are you nervous yet? Of course the third factor in the trifecta that results in domination of the Orioles lineup is for the pitcher to be a soft tosser. That is not the case here. Over his six major-league starts Paxton's fastball averages 93.9. He throws it about 2/3 of the time, mixing it with a curveball in the low 80s and a changeup every now and again (it averages over 86 mph). So he doesn't meet the third qualification, but I don't know if that makes me feel any better. A lefty who can dial it up to over 95 is a little scary. His fastest pitch this season was clocked at 97.9. I'm gonna cross my fingers that he still is shaking off some rust and he leaves one of those heaters in a sweet spot for Adam Jones (or any of his friends) to crush out of the park.
Starting for the Orioles tonight is Miguel Gonzalez, whose pitching line against Seattle last week (6 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K) doesn't look too bad. It doesn't tell the whole story though, as MiGo looked pretty bad out there at times. His three starts before that, though, were much better. On July 22nd against the Angels he fell one out short of having three straight eight-inning gems. I'm gonna cross my fingers that's the MiGo we see tonight.
Robinson Cano is the only Mariner that Gonzalez has faced more than six times, and Cano is 2-for-24 with two walks against him lifetime. Both hits were singles, by the way. Does that mean anything? Who knows. But it sounds good. The Mariners lineup is lefty heavy, with five lefties and one switch hitter. In his three years in the majors, Gonzalez has consistently allowed lefties to reach base at a higher rate than righties, but held them to a lower slugging percentage that results in lefties. The increase in OBP seems to be almost solely from an increase in walks to lefties. So that's interesting, I guess.
|SEATTLE MARINERS||BALTIMORE ORIOLES|
|Austin Jackson - CF||Nick Markakis - RF|
|Dustin Ackley - LF||Manny Machado - 3B|
|Robinson Cano - 2B||Adam Jones - CF|
|Kendrys Morales - DH||Nelson Cruz - DH|
|Kyle Seager - 3B||Delmon Young - LF|
|Logan Morrison - 1B||J.J. Hardy - SS|
|Chris Taylor - SS||Steve Pearce - 1B|
|Endy Chavez - RF||Caleb Joseph - C|
|Jesus Sucre - C||Jonathan Schoop - 2B|
|James Paxton - LHP||Miguel Gonzalez - RHP|
Today is Chris Davis Action Figure Day at Camden Yards, but Davis isn't in the lineup. That's a little embarrassing. Is it on par with planning Nolan Reimold and Brian Matusz bobbleheads only to have both players demoted to the minors when they were given out? Maybe the Orioles promotions staff should just stick with Adam Jones giveaways.