Checking out Gonzalez's splits

NEW YORK - Chris Tillman and Joe Saunders are scheduled to appear in the interview room today as potential Game 4 starters for the Orioles in the American League Division Series. It's like a game show. Maybe they'll both stand for a few minutes, and the first one to sit is confirmed for Thursday.

There's no mystery for tonight. Miguel Gonzalez is starting Game 3, his third assignment against the Yankees in his rookie season.

You want small sample sizes? Nick Swisher is 0-for-6 with five strikeouts. Mark Teixeira is 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

The Orioles don't have a lot of individual success stories against Hiroki Kuroda. Mark Reynolds is 5-for-26 with a home run and six RBIs. Nate McLouth is 2-for-16. J.J. Hardy is 1-for-10.

Not to be Captain Obvious here, but tonight's game is huge. The pressure intensifies for the Yankees if they're down 2-1 with Phil Hughes taking the mound in Game 4. And the Orioles aren't intimidated in the Bronx, where they've won all three series this year, taking two of three games.

They need to win two of three in the Division Series.

Gonzalez has allowed four runs in 13 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium, walking one batter and striking out 17. He's 6-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 11 road games, 3-2 with a 4.08 ERA in seven home games. Opponents are hitting .214 in Gonzalez's road games, .270 in his home games.

The Yankees are talking about possible adjustments to their lineup. They may want to consider that cleanup hitters are batting .130 against Gonzalez, the lowest average of any spot in the order. The No. 3 hitters are batting .152, the second-lowest average.

Not sure what that means, but it's a fact.

Meanwhile, No. 8 hitters are batting .325 and No. 9 hitters are batting .333, the two highest averages in the order.

Also not sure what that means.

Gonzalez has allowed nine earned runs in the first inning, his highest total, for a 5.40 ERA.

Gonzalez hasn't pitched since Oct. 2 in Tampa when he shut out the Rays over 6 1/3 innings. He's posted a 2.52 ERA in four starts on six-plus days rest.

Just saying...

Shameless plug alerts: I'll be talking Orioles at 10 a.m. on THE FAN 590 in Toronto. It's a phone interview. I didn't grab an early flight.

I'll also be appearing on "O's Xtra" on MASN, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

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