Baltimore Orioles: Getting to Guthrie in Game 3
Sep 26, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Games one and two of the American League Championship Series have each started off similarly: Kansas City jumps out to an early lead, putting all the pressure on Baltimore to respond.
With the struggles of the Orioles’ starters and early success of Kansas City’s, the Orioles haven’t held a lead in any inning of the first two games.
That pattern must be broken early if the Orioles want to bring this series back to Baltimore, and in game three, the Orioles have a great chance to do just that as they face a familiar foe and Kansas City’s weakest starter, Jeremy Guthrie.
Guthrie has a regular season ERA of 4.79 in the first four innings and is making his first postseason start. Getting to him early will shake his confidence and help potentially set the tone for rest of the series.
As Orioles fans know, Guthrie is susceptible to the home run. He has given up the most of the Royals’ ALCS starters, surrendering 23 this year, actually his lowest total since 2007. His 4.13 ERA is the highest of any of the Royals’ ALCS starters.
With men on base, opponents hit .277/.349/.408 against Guthrie this season — which bodes well for the Orioles considering their inability to take advantage of some key opportunities this series, leaving 41 men on base through the first two games.
One of the most egregious offenders has been first baseman Steve Pearce, who is batting fifth in the Orioles’ lineup. Coming off a breakout 21-homer season, Pearce has left eight men on base in the ALCS and is 0/9 with a walk and two strikeouts.
Pearce and the Orioles need to regain the power and clutch hitting that carried them through the regular season to overcome the suddenly scorching Royals offense. The Orioles have given up four bombs to the Royals in the ALCS while only hitting one of their own.
Down 0-2, the Orioles need to come out swinging in game three with their season on the line. Putting a few runs up early will allow starter Wei-Yin Chen to be aggressive on the mound and send a message that the Orioles will continue to fight.
This series isn’t over, but if the Orioles allow Guthrie’s start to pass without putting some runs on the board, the end will be much, much closer.