They first met in 1966, with the Orioles taking the World Series in a four-game sweep that will be celebrated later this summer at Camden Yards. Since then, the O’s have won two more World Series (in 1970 and 1983) and the Dodgers two more as well (1981 and 1988). If the last memory you have of the Dodgers is Kirk Gibson fist-pumping while hobbling around the bases in 1988 that probably means two things: 1) You’re old like me and 2) You don’t watch much National League baseball, also like me.
These aren’t Kirk Gibson’s Dodgers - they aren’t even Don Mattingly’s Dodgers, as the former Yankees player and Dodgers manager parted ways with the club last off-season. Yasiel Puig has come back down to Earth, Clayton Kershaw is injured (as are about 73 other starting pitchers for Los Angeles) and because the Seager brothers haven’t tormented the Orioles enough, Corey Seager leads the team with a 142 OPS+.
DISCLAIMER: I grew up an Orioles fan and a Dodgers fan. The Orioles will always come first, and I’ve never seen a game in Chavez Ravine, but I was heartbroken when those Damn Yankees beat the Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. Sure, 1981 helped soothe the hurt, but that was a strike year and didn’t really count. 1988 did. I’ll be rooting for the boys in Orange and Black, of course, but the rest of the year? Love Ya Blue, too. And check Twitter for their lineup tweets - they are seriously good. On to the games because ITFDB...
Game 1: July 4, 9:10 PM Eastern
Yovani Gallardo vs Julio Urias
The Dodgers rookie came up to much acclaim, and his first seven starts have been uneven but getting better. He lasted just 2.2 IP in his debut, and left with an ERA over 10. In his last start, he allowed just two runs in 6.0 IP against Milwaukee, although he allowed six walks in that last start. He’s passed the Matusz test every time he’s pitched, with his ERA going down after every start. Then again, when you start with a ERA greater than 10, maybe that isn’t as impressive as it looks. None of the Orioles have faced him, obviously. And here’s the bad news - he’s left-handed.
Yovani Gallardo has won two of his three games started since his return from the disabled list and was no-decisioned in the other. But as Buck Showalter says about Mike Wright’s minor league starts, the results have been better than the pitching. He’s pitched to a 4.43 ERA in those three starts, has allowed nine walks in those 16.1 IP, and surrendered three home runs. To his credit, he’s struck out 14, but that’s some serious luck coming into the equation to get the results he’s been getting.
Game 2: July 2, 10:10 PM Eastern
Chris Tillman vs Kenta Maeda
OK, raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the Dodgers starter. That’s what I thought. Yet another rookie pitcher from the Dodgers, but this one’s right-handed. He’s been awfully good, with a 2.82 ERA for the season. His WHIP is just 1.090, he’s got a strikeout to walk ratio of 3.18K/1BB and has 89 strikeouts in 92.2 IP. That’s a pretty good rookie season.
Chris Tillman has been seen as the steady presence in the O’s lineup until his last outing, when he did his best Ubaldo Jimenez impersonation. He didn’t last five innings, gave up four runs and took 112 pitches to do it. That’s a lot of pitches, especially considering he walked only three batters. And while Tillman was 3-0 in his previous five starts before that, he had a .300 BAA and a 4.80 ERA. It’s not like we shouldn’t have seen it coming.
Game 3: July 6, 3:10 PM Eastern
Kevin Gausman vs Bud Norris
Bud Norris takes the place of Clayton Kershaw in the rotation, so the Dodgers shouldn’t skip a beat ... yeah, you’re probably spitting something on your monitor right now, and I couldn’t type that with a straight face, either. Although, Norris did strike out eight in 6.0 IP in his Dodgers debut while giving up no runs. It would be just like the Orioles to get shut out by Bud Freakin’ Norris, wouldn’t it?
Kevin Gausman will attempt to put together a complete outing Wednesday, which eluded him last time out as he gave up three runs in 6.0 IP on eight hits. But before that start, he was awesome on June 25, pitching 7.2 innings and giving up zero runs and just four hits, striking out seven. Here’s hoping we see the Kevin Gausman of June 25, not the Kevin Gausman of July 1.