O’s look to even up series and force rubber match with Yankees

July 06, 2013 | Max Buchdahl

O’s look to even up series and force rubber match with Yankees

When the Orioles lost the opening game of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium in April, they responded with a win over the Yankees the following day. After a heart-crushing loss last night, the Orioles will have to lick their wounds and do just that today.

The Yankees will send out crafty veteran Andy Pettitte, who will be pitching on Andy Pettitte Figurine Day at Yankee Stadium. Orioles fans can only hope he doesn’t have the same success that Chris Davis did on Davis’  T-shirt night. Pettitte faced the O’s last back in October, giving up three runs over seven innings of work in Game 2 of the ALDS at Camden Yards.

Despite his storied career in New York, Pettitte has struggled mightily this season at Yankee Stadium, going 1-4 with a 5.72 ERA in his seven home starts. Mostly due to his age and quick fatigue, Pettitte has eclipsed 100 pitches in just five of his fourteen starts this season. He also has trouble going deep into games because of his lack of success as he progresses through a start. All eight home runs Pettitte has allowed this year have come between the 4th-and-6th innings (five in the 6th). So don’t get worrying if the Orioles bats stay quiet early; they are more likely to wake up later on in the game.

Pettitte’s numbers against left-handed batters are considerably better than against righties. He’s given up a measly 14 hits to lefties, compared to 77 to righties. Lefties are hitting .167 against him this year; righties are hitting .309. Nick Markakis, however, has been bucking that trend. He is a career .324 hitter off of Pettitte with two home runs. In twenty career at-bats, Adam Jones has seven hits, including a triple, against Pettitte. But Jones has been struggling of late, his batting average dropping thirteen points over the last nine games. Hopefully, looking across at a pitcher he has had success against in the past will give him some extra confidence.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi likely won’t hesitate to pull Pettitte early in the game if he struggles, especially after Ivan Nova’s complete game last night. The Yankees bullpen is plenty rested.

For the Orioles, Chris Tillman will head to the hill. Tillman’s last start came on Sunday night against the Yankees, when he went six strong innings, surrendering two runs on five hits with six strikeouts. In that start, Tillman threw 98 pitches over his six innings. His struggles came in the second inning, in which he walked two batters, including one which pushed across a run. Despite his laboring in the second, Tillman was able to settle down and surrender just two hits in his final four innings.

Tillman was arguably the most consistent starter for the Orioles during the month of June. Also, the Orioles have won every one of his road starts, in part due to his team-leading 2.76 ERA on the road.

Chris Tillman has thrown fewer than 100 pitches in six of his seventeen starts this year, including his past two starts. For the Orioles right-hander, pitch count has been a side-effect of his consistent work on the mound. His knack for nibbling on the corner and getting into deep counts has affected his ability to go deeper into games. Buck Showalter would love it if Tillman could get into the later innings of today’s game in order to save the bullpen.

Will Chris Tillman continue to dominate teams on the road? Or will he revert back to his struggling past at Yankee Stadium? Hopefully for Orioles, Chris Tillman is able to repeat his performance from last Sunday against the Bronx Bombers and even up the series. Let’s see what kind of encore performance Tilly has in store for us today.

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