Matthew Taylor: Will Mariners-O’s series tilt toward pitching or hitting?

If you’re looking for offense, you may want to avoid Camden Yards for the next few nights. If, on the other hand, you’re a connoisseur of quality pitching, the ballpark is just the place for you.

There were two no-hitters in baseball last week. With the Orioles and Mariners squaring off, you might see two in the same game. The Birds currently rank 25th of 30 major league teams with a .233 team average and have scored three runs or fewer in six of the past seven games. The Mariners rank 27th of 30 teams with a .230 average and have scored three runs or less in seven of eight games. Seattle has one regular batting better than .300 - Ichiro, of course - while Robert Andino’s .277 average leads the Birds.

A potential bright spot for the Orioles’ offense are Vladimir Guerrero’s career numbers against Seattle. Guerrero has played 115 games against the Mariners, his most versus any opponent. In that time, he’s compiled a .345 average with 30 home runs and 94 RBIs. He has a .413 career on-base percentage, .623 slugging percentage and 1.036 OPS. In short, Guerrero is a Mariner killer.

Things won’t come easy for Guerrero or any other Oriole at the plate for at least the first two games of the series, as the Mariners will run out two of baseball’s best young arms: rookie Michael Pineda on Tuesday and defending Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez on Wednesday.

Pineda, 22, won April’s American League Rookie of the Month award after finishing 4-1 in five starts. Pineda posted a 2.01 ERA in baseball’s first month, held opponents to a .198 average and struck out 30 batters in 31 1/3 innings. All of his April appearances were quality starts.

Hernandez, 25, has finished in the top two in Cy Young voting the past two seasons and won the award last year after posting a career-low 2.27 ERA in 34 starts. He struck out 232 batters in 249 2/3 innings pitched in 2010.

Nevertheless, the Orioles have totaled a .294 team batting average and .345 on-base percentage in 12 games versus Hernandez. Only the Houston Astros, who have faced him once, have better numbers in both categories.

The Orioles’ current roster has a combined .320 average and .372 on-base percentage against Hernandez led by Nick Markakis (.464 average, .545 on-base percentage in 28 at-bats) and Brian Roberts (.387 average, .472 on-base percentage in 31 at-bats). Even Cesar Izturis has four hits in seven career at-bats versus the defending Cy Young winner.

All of which is to say, strange things happen in baseball. So perhaps this series has something to offer fans of both pitching and hitting after all.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds will appear this week as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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