After a disappointing series in which they dropped two out of three to the lowly White Sox, the Orioles head to the Bronx for what they hope to be a rebound series versus the Yankees. The O’s have won five consecutive games against the Evil Empire since losing a three-game series to them back in April.
On Friday night, the Orioles will face Ivan Nova, who is getting the start in place of the ailing Hiroki Kuroda, who shut out the Orioles at Yankee Stadium in April. Nova faced the Orioles last Saturday, going 5.2 innings in relief, giving up two runs and striking out four as the O’s cruised to an 11-3 win.
Despite some sporadic relief appearances, Nova has made five starts this year, going 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA. In his last start, on June 23 against the Rays, he gave up 3 runs and struck out 7 over 6.2 innings.
Orioles hitters have had tremendous success against Nova. Matt Wieters and Chris Davis have a combined .405 average with 5 HRs and 12 RBIs against the Yankee right-hander. For Wieters, Ivan Nova being on the mound may be just what he needs to break out of a 6-for-33 slump. Nova relies heavily on his mid-90s fastball, which he hasn’t had much success with so far this year. Opponents are hitting .450 on the year against Nova’s fastball, which bodes well for the home run-dependent Orioles in home-run friendly Yankee Stadium.
Also look for Orioles hitters to get deep in the count against Nova. His best pitch is usually his first pitch of the at-bat. Additionally, his first few innings of a start are oftentimes the ones in which he struggles most. In each of the first three innings, Nova’s ERA is above five.
Miguel Gonzalez will face off against the Yankees on Friday night, his fourth career start against the hated division rival. Gonzalez is Buck Showalter’s go-to-guy for a win against the Yankees. He is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his career against them, and in his only loss, he gave up just two earned runs.
No Yankees hitter has more than two career hits against Gonzalez. In Game 3 of last year’s ALDS, Miguel Gonzalez’s first taste of postseason baseball, he went seven innings while giving up only one run and five hits.
It seems as if Miguel Gonzalez was born to pitch against the Yankees. If the O’s want a for-sure quality start against them, it’s smart to turn to Gonzo. The only question will be the run support he receives. This season, Gonzalez hasn’t lost when the Orioles offense gives him three or more runs.
The Orioles will hope that for tonight, the best predictor of the future is the past. If Gonzalez can put up his normal numbers against the Yankees tonight, the birds will be in good shape.