Davis, Cano bring hot bats to Sunday Night
April, 14, 2013
By Jeremy Lundblad | ESPN.com
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesChris Davis has enjoyed watching the ball fly away in 2013.A rematch of one of last year's best matchups is on the Sunday Night Baseball schedule for this evening.
Let's preview some of the topics that they'll be talking about on tonight's broadcast at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Orioles Hitter to watch: Chris Davis
Chris Davis enters the night tied with New York Mets catcher John Buck for the major-league lead in RBI with 19 in 11 games.
Only four players have ever had MORE through a team’s first 11 games of a season: Lou Gehrig (20 in 1927), Bobby Doerr (20 in 1941), Willie Mays (20 in 1964) and Manny Ramirez (22 in 1999).
The record for RBI through his team’s first 12 games is 23 by Scott Rolen in 2004.
The key for Davis is a rather simple one. Entering this season, Davis missed at a rate of about one of every three swings he took. This season, that rate has been cut to one miss for every six swings.
Davis has excelled against pitches on the outer half of the plate (an area Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda frequently targets). Eleven of his 15 hits and five of his homers have come on pitches to that area.
Yankees hitter to watch: Robinson Cano
After a rough first six games of the season, Robinson Cano has returned to form in the last four games, with 11 hits and three home runs in 19 at-bats.
Cano is 1-for-9 with four strikeouts against left-handed pitching this season. Lefties have been able to succeed at getting Cano out dating back to last season by pitching him to the outside part of the plate and off the outside corner.
Cano has done a lot of damage to righties on pitches to that area during this hot streak. Seven of those 11 hits and two of the home runs came on pitches to the outer-third or off the outside corner.
Wei-Yin Chen stats to watch
Chen gave up a home run to the first major-league hitter he faced last season- New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. He won’t have to worry about facing Jeter on Sunday, but he’ll have to worry about home runs.
He allowed six in 24 innings in four starts against the Yankees last season, though he did beat them in a homer-free start in the ALDS last season.
Chen is 8-0 and the Orioles are 12-1 in the starts in which he didn’t allow a home run. He’s 4-8 and the Orioles are 7-14 when he allows at least one.
One other note on Chen: a win would give him 13, tying him with Hong-Chih Kuo was the second-winningest of the five major league pitchers born in Taiwan. The all-time leader is Chien-Ming Wang, with 61 wins.
Hiroki Kuroda stats to watch
Kuroda had a terrific season in 2012 for the Yankees and will be seeking to duplicate that effort in 2013.
Kuroda excelled last season at getting opponents to beat the ball into the ground. His 53 percent ground-ball rate was seventh-best among AL starters and a significant increase from his single-season career best of 45 percent.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who is hitting .209 this season, will be facing a pitcher who has given him a lot of trouble in the past.
Hardy is 1-for-10 in the regular season against Kuroda and also went 0-for-4 against him in last year’s playoffs.
Orioles back of the bullpen terrific again
There were some doubters as to whether the back of the Orioles bullpen would be as good in 2013 as it was in 2012.
But two of their pitchers have lived up to expectations so far.
Darren O’Day and closer Jim Johnson have each allowed one unearned run in a combined 12 1/3 innings this season.
Mark Simon also contributed to this post