Orioles look to Gonzalez to salvage series, split with Royals

July 25, 2013 | Max Buchdahl

Following a second consecutive heart-breaking loss at the hands of the Royals, the Orioles will attempt to split the four-game series, and can do so with a win tonight. With the sweep of the Rangers this past weekend, they could also go 5-2 on the post-All-Star game road trip if they can find a way to pull out tonight’s game. For the Royals, former Orioles RHP Jeremy Guthrie will go to the mound, while the Orioles will send out the trusty Miguel Gonzalez.

Guthrie has gone 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA this season in twenty starts, and is already two wins away from tying his career-high, a mark he attained in 2010 with an Orioles jersey on. In his most recent start, Guthrie faced the Tigers in Detroit and gave up five runs on ten hits over six innings. He was the benefactor, however, of his team’s run support, as he and the team earned the win.

Despite his good-looking win-loss record, Guthrie hasn’t exactly performed up to par this season. A good amount of his struggles can be attributed to his inability to finish innings. With two outs in an inning, opponent hitters are hitting .297 against Guthrie, and have hit eight home runs, the most he’s given up of any other amount of outs. Guthrie has also struggled mightily in the third inning this season, having given up thirteen earned runs and a .324 batting average.

When facing his former team in his former ballpark back on May 9, the Royals right-hander had tremendous success. He gave up just one earned run in six innings, tallying what was at the time his fifth win in his first seven starts of the year. All has gone downhill from there for Jeremy Guthrie, though. His ERA has jumped over two whole points since then and he has given up five or more runs in four of his last six starts.

In the past, however, Orioles hitters haven’t been able to figure him out. Of tonight’s Orioles lineup, there are just six combined career hits against Jeremy Guthrie, though he has never faced Brian Roberts or Henry Urrutia. Chris Davis is the only Oriole to hit a home run against Guthrie, while Matt Wieters is the only other O’s hitter to have an extra-base hit.  In order to put up runs for Miguel Gonzalez, they’ll need to break through their past struggles against their former teammate.

The big thing that will need to change is the offense’s inability to push through runs with men in scoring position. Last night, the Orioles pushed across just one run after having a 1-out, bases loaded situation in the eighth inning.

Luckily for tonight’s starter, Miguel Gonzalez, the Orioles offense has scored six or more runs with him on the mound in seven of his seventeen starts. Gonzalez usually doesn’t need that much run support, but the offense could certainly use the outbreak.

Gonzalez is coming off of another stellar performance, surrendering just one run over 6.2 innings in a win over the Rangers last Saturday night. He has lost just once since the Royals’ visit to Baltimore back in May, though he did not face the Royals during that series. This will be just his second career start against the Royals, and his first at Kauffman Stadium.

Jerrod Dyson, who is in the starting lineup tonight for the first time this series, has two hits in as many at-bats against Gonzalez. Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Billy Butler all have gone hitless in their short careers against Gonzalez, though it is quite the small sample size. Catcher Salvador Perez, who is hitting cleanup tonight, is the only Royals hitter to go deep off of Miguel Gonzalez.

The Orioles would love to finish off this road trip with a win and have some momentum as they return to Baltimore for a crucial divisional series with the first-place Red Sox. However, given the Orioles offense’s shortcomings in the previous two nights combined with Miguel Gonzalez’s consistency of late, tonight may be another old-fashioned pitching duel in Kansas City.