The Baltimore Orioles have a chance to finish a very challenging road trip above .500.
They'll try to achieve that behind their hottest starting pitcher.
Miguel Gonzalez looks to continue his outstanding July and help the Orioles take three of four from the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Coming out of the All-Star break with 10 straight road games against Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels - baseball's top two teams - and contending Seattle was a difficult assignment for the AL East-leading Orioles (57-46). However, they won five of the first eight behind a 2.66 ERA from their starters before Bud Norris struggled in Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Mariners.
"We don't look at it like, 'If we do this we're successful.' You come out here and try to win 10," manager Buck Showalter told MLB's official website. "We don't do math. We don't do percentages or anything. You post up and you play and try to win a nine-inning game. Every day is another opportunity."
Starting Gonzalez (5-5, 3.91 ERA) against a weak Seattle offense seems a favorable matchup for Baltimore. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA in three starts this month, pitching at least 7 2-3 innings in each outing. Gonzalez has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 14 of 16 starts, but the Orioles are only 8-8 in those games.
He was outstanding in a 4-2 win over the Angels on Tuesday, taking a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning before allowing a two-run homer to Mike Trout. Those were the only runs he gave up in 7 2-3 innings.
"That's as good as you can see a guy pitch, especially in a hostile environment against a really good team," Showalter said. "That's about as sharp as I've seen Miggy in a while. He had everything working and everything at his disposal, and he had command of it."
Gonzalez has never faced the Mariners but he's plenty familiar with Robinson Cano, who is only 2 for 18 in their matchups.
Seattle (54-50) ended a four-game skid Saturday, getting seven shutout innings from Chris Young and a pair of doubles and two runs from Dustin Ackley. The Mariners have totaled eight runs and batted .190 with no homers in the past five games.
A struggling offense has also been a problem for the Orioles, who were held to three hits Saturday and are batting .168 over their last seven games. Baltimore, though, has six home runs and nine doubles during that span while batting .273 with runners in scoring position.
The Orioles will get their first look at Seattle rookie Roenis Elias (8-8, 4.41), who hopes to build on his most effective outing in a month.
After losing three straight starts behind a 10.05 ERA, the left-hander took advantage of an extended layoff and beat the Mets 5-2 on Monday in his first appearance in 12 days. He allowed one run and five hits over 5 1-3 innings while walking two and striking out eight before leaving with cramping in his left forearm.
"The rest definitely helped," Elias told MLB's official website. "It especially helped seeing my son and my wife. It gave me more energy to go forward as the season goes along."
The Orioles have won eight of 11 at Safeco Field.
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