The Orioles head to New York to play game 3 from the American League Division Series (ALDS) after bouncing back to take game 2 and even then series at 1-1. In the first two games of the series it has pretty much been neck and neck minus one inning. To me it’s only fitting that for the Orioles magical season to keep going they have to win 2 of the next 3 in New York which is pretty much the Mecca of October baseball. This season its been Camden Yards North every time the Orioles have gone into New York , with the O’s taking 6 of 9 games. This, after all, is October and Yankee Stadium which can never be looked at as a good thing for any opposing team.
The Orioles against Hiroki Kuroda
The Yankees will send 16 game winner Hiroki Kuroda to the mound to face the Birds. Kuroda has thrown well against the Orioles this season and has a 1-1 record to show for it. The O’s have had some individual successes against Kuroda this year with Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and Matt Wieters all hitting over .330 against the right hander this season. Kuroda has a heavy sinker that is almost impossible to get up in the air and hitters eventually pound it into the ground. This is a problem with the Orioles all or nothing offense. The good news is that the O’s have been able to manufacture some runs without the long ball. Baltimore has also done it without the help of two big bats in Adam Jones and Matt Wieters who are a combined 2 for 16 in the series. They need to get it going in some way to help out Chris Davis (hitting .500 in the ALDS) if the Orioles expect to win this series.
Miguel Gonzalez against the Yankees
The Orioles will send their second straight rookie to the mound in Game 3, starting 9-4 Miguel Gonzalez. For Gonzo to help the Orioles take a 2-1 lead in the series, all he has to do is what he has done against the Yanks all year and that is win. Gonzalez is 2-0 against the Yankees this season with 17 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched. As far as the Yankees big bats go, they have done nothing against Gonzalez, literally nothing. Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, and Mark Teixeira are a combined 0-21 against him this season with 12 strike outs. They haven’t even worked a walk. But like I said before, it’s October and this is Yankee stadium, but the Orioles do have reason to be optimistic sending Gonzalez to the bump.
Other Match-Ups and Players to Watch
A-Rod/Nick Swisher – Make no mistake A-Rod is a head case and striking out half the time (5 strikeouts in 9 at bats) is under his skin. Nick Swisher on the other hand is a lot more laid back but 1-33 with runners in scoring position is bound to get anyone a little frustrated.
Manny Machado – The 20 year-old has had a rough go of it so far going 0-7 in his first two ALDS games. The Orioles would love to have something out of him offensively but are happy with him just making plays at 3rd. In any event, just like Bryce Harper being in the playoffs, it’s just cool to watch a 20 year-old play on the big stage.
Brian Matusz – I had all but packed it in on Matusz but he is a different animal coming out of the bullpen.
In my opinion the Orioles have to take game three if they want to win the series, and I believe they have a good shot at it. It is a must-win game. If Gonzalez can throw well and the Orioles can knock Kuroda out of the game they can win it. Then the pressure is all on the Yankees with up and down Phil Hughes going in Game 4.