With Mush on a self-imposed hiatus and Leo in detention, it falls to me to warn you all that we are facing Buck's Birds this weekend in an all important pre-All Star break series. If we sweep this, we'll go from 3rd place to, well, we'll probably stay in 3rd place, but we'll be closer than we were. If we get swept, it goes without saying that the sky will fall, and the earth will also likely come off its axis. Thankfully, we now have Jeff Francis and maybe Cash can swing another deal for someone equally as mediocre to come in and pitch after Francis gets clobbered.
What Have WE Done Lately? Well, the bullpen failed miserably to hold a 3-0 lead yesterday and we lost a game we could have won had they not so miserably failed. We did beat up on the Twins last week, if that counts.
What Have THEY Done Lately? I don't know because I didn't really look, but I suppose they've been winning. They are in first place, after all.
Disclaimer: The following was shamelessly copied and pasted from RAB.
Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (vs. NYY)
Gonzalez, 30, has a 4.22 ERA (5.19 FIP) in 81 innings across 14 starts and one relief appearance this season, so the magic of his excellent 2012 rookie season has all but worn off at this point. His strikeout rate (7.11 K/9 and 17.8 K%) is okay, but he walks too many (3.56 BB/9 and 8.9 BB%), doesnít get enough ground balls (40.2%), and canít keep the ball in the park (1.56 HR/9 and 13.5 HR/FB%). Both lefties (.374 wOBA) and righties (.364 wOBA) have hit him pretty hard, but hey, at least he doesnít have much of a platoon split. Gonzalezís money-maker is a split-changeup hybrid that sits in the low-80s. He sets it up with low-90s fastballs and also throws a low-80s slider and mid-70s curveball. That split-change keeps him in MLB. The Yankees scored three runs in six innings against Gonzalez back in April.
Saturday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. BAL) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (vs. NYY)
The Orioles toyed with the idea of skipping Ubaldoís final start before the All-Star break, but they opted to remain on turn and throw him this weekend. The 30-year-old has a 4.52 ERA (4.68 FIP) in 18 starts and 99.2 innings this summer, so itís safe to say his strong second half last year was just a mirage. Jimenez has fine strikeout (7.95 K/9 and 20.1 K%), homer (0.99 HR/9 and 12.2 HR/FB%), and ground ball (45.7%) rates, but he walks far too many (5.42 BB/9 and 13.7 BB%). Thatís a career-high walk rate by nearly one full walk per nine innings, which is really saying something given his career. Lefties (.363 wOBA) have been much harder on him than righties (.308 wOBA). Ubaldo is a five-pitch pitcher with a low-90s fastball setting up his mid-80s splitter, low-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball. He has faced the Yankees twice this season, allowing four runs in six innings back in April and one run in 5.2 innings last month. I honestly would not be surprised if Jimenez dominated or got knocked out in the second inning. Dude is as unpredictable as it gets.
Sunday: TBA (Jeff Francis and friends?) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (vs. NYY)
I think one of the reasons the Orioles have not been able to run away the division this year is Tillmanís inability to take that next step forward and go from interesting young pitcher to someone who belongs near the front of the rotation. He was solid the last two years, but this season the 26-year-old has a 4.11 ERA (4.55 FIP) in 19 starts and 111.2 innings. Meh. Tillman has curbed his long ball problem (0.97 HR/9 and 8.5 HR/FB%) but otherwise has yucky strikeout (5.64 K/9 and 14.3 K%), walk (3.63 BB/9 and 9.2 BB%), and ground ball (39.9%) numbers. Lefties (.336 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.305 wOBA) and itís worth noting Tillman has pitched much better at home (.289 wOBA) than on the road (.347 wOBA). Low-90s four-seamers and cutters set up his mid-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and rainbow mid-70s curveball. Heís lost about one mile an hour off his fastball for the second straight year, perhaps explaining why heís been able to take that step forward. Tillman threw seven shutout innings against the Yankees last month.