BALTIMORE ORIOLES (95-70)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (96-68)
American League Division Series – Series tied 1-1
First pitch: Wednesday, 7:35 p.m. EDT
Line: New York -165, Baltimore +155, Total: 8½
The ALDS shifts to the Bronx for Wednesday's pivotal Game 3 between the Orioles and Yankees.
Game 3 will pit Baltimore right-hander Miguel Gonzalez against New York righty Hiroki Kuroda. These two faced each other on Aug. 31, a game the Orioles won 6-1 at Yankee Stadium, thanks to seven shutout innings from Gonzalez. That was one of six victories for Baltimore in the Bronx this season, taking all three series, two games to one. It was also one of nine Orioles victories in the past 11 games Gonzalez has started. Although Kuroda has been tough at home this year (11-6, 2.72 ERA), all the pressure is squarely on the Yankees here. And while many of the big New York hitters have been terribly unclutch in key spots in recent postseasons, the O's have thrived in pressure all season, going 30-9 in one-run games, and prevailing in 16 straight extra-inning affairs with their stellar bullpen. The pick here is heavy underdog BALTIMORE, which is 63-47 (.573) as an underdog of +100 or more this year, to win Game 3.
This four-star FoxSheets trend also sides with the Orioles:
BALTIMORE is 25-11 (69.4%, +19.9 Units) against the money line vs. good fielding teams - averaging <=0.6 errors/game in the second half of the season this season. The average score was BALTIMORE 4.9, OPPONENT 4.2 - (Rating = 4*).
Gonzalez (9-4, 3.25 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) has had a brilliant rookie campaign, which has been even more impressive on the road. The 28-year-old is 6-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in nine away starts, beating New York twice in Yankee Stadium, racking up 17 strikeouts and just one walk in those 13.2 innings. He also finished 2012 on a high note, leading his team to four straight victories by going 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Gonzalez has pitched at least six innings in 10 of his past 11 starts, but if he gets into trouble in his first career postseason outing, Baltimore's bullpen is perfectly capable of bailing him out. Orioles relievers are 32-12 (.727) with a 3.02 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 56 saves (78% success rate) overall this season. These numbers are even more impressive on the road: 16-4 record, 2.53 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 31 saves in 38 chances (82%).
Unlike Gonzalez, Kuroda (9-4, 3.36 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) has struggled down the stretch, allowing 4+ runs in four of his past seven starts. He carries a 4.63 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in this span that started when he surrendered four runs in 8.1 innings in that 6-1 loss to Gonzalez and the Orioles to end August. However, Kuroda did shut down Baltimore in his only other outing against them on April 30, limiting the O's to just one run on four hits in seven strong innings. This will be Kuroda's first postseason appearance since the 2009 NLCS when he was blasted for six runs on six hits in just 1.1 innings in an 11-0 loss in Philadelphia. However, Kuroda pitched very well in his other two playoff starts, both in 2008, going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He has completed seven innings just once in his past six starts this year, which means the Yankees bullpen will likely be needed much more than they have so far this series (1.1 innings, all by David Robertson). New York's bullpen has been solid overall this season (24-17, 3.42 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 80% save conversion rate), but it hasn't been nearly as effective in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, going 10-7 with a 3.69 ERA.