(1090 The Fan) — The Seattle Mariners (56-52) head to Baltimore to finish their rod trip with three games at Camden Yards against the American League East leading Orioles, who have won seven of 10 including three of four last week at Safeco Field. Seattle is coming off a series win in Cleveland thanks to a clutch two-run home run by Mike Zunino in the top of the eighth inning to regain a lead they’d lost after jumping out front 4-1 early in the game.

The Orioles went 13 innings and fell to the Los Angeles Angels 1-0, their eighth one-run game since the All-star break. The Mariners will send the back end of their rotation at the league leaders in home runs, but will get to hand the ball to Hisashi Iwakuma in the series finale Sunday.

Pitching Matchups | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Friday: Roenis Elias, LHP vs. Wei-Yin Chen, LHP
Elias was solid versus the O’s back in Seattle, striking out six over five innings and yielding just four hits and a run. He threw just 85 pitches and hasn’t tallied more than 100 since June as the club monitors his workload.

The rookie is very tough on left-handed batters and right-handers have problems when he’s got his good changeup, which he did in his last start.

He’s still sitting 90-92 mph with his fastball and is holding that velocity throughout his outings, which is a good sign he’s not tiring just yet as he approaches a career high in innings pitched.

Elias vs. Orioles
Nelson Cruz: 0-1, BB
Chris Davis: 0-2, 2 SO
J.J. Hardy: 0-2, SO
Adam Jones: 0-3, SO
Caleb Joseph: 1-2, 2B
Manny Machado: 1-2
Nick Markakis:Ca 0-2, BB, SO
Steve Pearce: 1-3, SO
Jonathan Schoop: 1-1, BB

Elias Splits (big-leagues):
LHB: .200/.283/.368, 3 HR
RHB: .256/.328/.402, 11 HR
Home: 4.61 ERA, 6 HR, .250 BAA
Road: 3.95 ERAm 8 HR, .238 BAA

Scouting Wei-Yin Chen
Grades reflect 20-80 scouting scale; 80 is outstanding, among league’s best, 50 is major-league average, 20 is poor, not in line with big-league standards.
Four-seam Fastball (91-94 mph): 60
Two-seam Fastball (91-93): 50
Slider (81-83) : 40
Curveball (74-76: 45
Changeup (82-85) : 40
Control: 60
Command: 55

Chen vs. Mariners
Dustin Ackley: 2-10, 2 SO
Brad Miller: 0-4, SO
Chris Taylor: 1-3, SO
Corey Hart: 1-3
Kyle Seager: 1-14, BB, 2 SO
Mike Zunino: 0-3
Austin Jackson: 1-5, BB, SO
Robinson Cano: 4-22, 2B, HR, 3 BB, 6 SO
Kendrys Morales: 2-6

Chen Splits
LHB: .298/.333/.438, 3 HR
RHB: .272/.303/.470, 15 HR
Home: 3.92 ERA, 10 HR, .287 BAA
Away: 3.93 ERA, 8 HR, .268 BAA

Chen shut out the M’s over eight innings in Seattle last week, allowing five hits and issuing just one walk. He took advantage of Safeco Field having allowed 13 fly balls, but the Mariners did not string together hits — surprise, surprise.

Chen’s ability to use the entire strike zone and hide the ball well from the batter allows his above-average fastball to play up as if he’s sitting mid-90s. His secondary stuff isn’t anything to write home about but dropping in an average mid-70s curveball on the outer edge after seeing three or four fastballs spotted on the inner half can get the job done.

Saturday: James Paxton, LHP vs. Miguel Gonzalez, RHP
Paxton will make his third start of the year and first since April after suffering through some arm problems and taking the long road back.

He’s not likely to be allowed to go too far beyond 90 pitches, but if he gets to that point after the fifth inning, it’s probably a win for Seattle in terms of performance.

When he’s right, Paxton will sit 91-95 mph with his two fastballs, touching 97 and occasionally cutting a heater away from righties and in on lefties. His curveball can be downright dirty when he finds a consistent release point and his changeup has gone from merely a show-me pitch to one he can use versus right-handed batters to keep them off the fastball.

Command and overall control are key for Paxton and something he’s battled as a pro since signing in 2010, and he’s had just two rehab starts to ramp up for this one, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he struggled a bit in that department right out of the gate.

Paxton has never faced the Orioles with platoon bat Delmon Young’s 0-for-3 with a strike out the lone line against the southpaw.

Paxton splits (2013-14 MLB)
LHB: .226/.250/.323 (7-for-31)
RHB: ..144/.210/.309 (14-for-97), 4 HR
Home: 2.00 ERA, 3 HR, .182 BAA
Road: 1.50 ERA, HR, .145 BAA

Scouting Miguel Gonzalez, RHP
Four-seam Fastball (90-93 mph): 50
Two-seam Fastball (90-93): 50
Slider (83-85): 55
Curveball (75-77): 45
Changeup (83-85: 40
Control: 40
Command: 40

Gonzalez vs. Mariners
Cano: 2-21, 2 BB, 2 SO
Chris Denorfia: 0-2, BB, 2 SO
Hart: 1-3, SO
Jackson: 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 BB
Morales: 0-6, SO
Morrison: 0-2, BB
Seager: 1-2, BB
Taylor: 2-3, 2B
Zunino: 2-3

Gonzalez Splits
LHB: .270/.347/.446, 8 HR
RHB: .273/.338/.477, 9 HR
Home: 3.30 ERA, 7 HR, .267 BAA
Road: 4.12 ERA, 10 HR, .275 BAA

Gonzalez uses solid stuff yet possesses not one plus pitch in his arsenal, explaining the modest strikeout rates. He relies on situational pitching, defense and throwing enough strikes to stay away from pitching too much with runners on base.

He’s averaging fewer than six innings per start but has gone six or more in each of his last four, including last week at Safeco in a 3-2 Orioles win.

Gonzalez will serve up the long ball, however, and is among the more inconsistent arms month-to-month because he relies on things out of his control.

Sunday: Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP vs. Chris Tillman, RHP
Iwakuma was strong again Wednesday in Cleveland, striking out six and allowing just seven baserunners in seven frames of a 5-2 M’s victory.

The right-handed has issued but nine walks in 117 2/3 innings this season and has dominated right-handed batters. His Achilles heel has been left-handed batters, but that’s being picky.

Iwakuma, 33, is one of the best No. 2 starters in baseball and overall has held opponents to a .258 on-base percentage for the year.

Iwakuma vs. Orioles
Cruz: 4-20, 2-2B, BB, 5 SO
Davis: 3-5, 2B, HR, SO
Ryan Flaherty: 1-3, SO
Hardy: 0-6, 3 SO
Jones: 0-5
Joseph: 2-3
Markakis: 1-4
Pearce: 0-1, BB, SO
Schoop: 0-3, SO
Young: 4-8, 2B, SO

Iwakuma Splits
LHB: .279/.288/.399, 6 HR
RHB: .204/.225/.313, 6 HR
Home: 3.04 ERA, 8 HR, .233 BAA
Road: 3.09 ERA, 4 HR, .258 BAA

Scouting Chris Tillman
Four-seam Fastball (89-92 mph): 50
Slider (84-87): 45
Curveball (74-77) 50
Changeup (81-83): 40
Control: 40
Command: 45

Tillman vs. Mariners
Ackley: 1-9, 2 SO
Cano: 11-25, 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB, 3 SO
Miller: 0-3, SO
Morales: 4-6, 2B
Seager: 1-10, 2B, 2 BB, 4 SO
Jackson: 2-12, 3 SO

Tillman Splits
LHB: .254/.328/.378, 7 HR
RHB: .241/.306/.411, 7 HR
Home: 3.10 ERA, 4 HR, .247 BAA
Road: 4.68 ERA, 10 HR, .249 BAA

Tillman has been merely average the past three years despite making the All-star team in 2012 and in 2014 has had problems missing bats. His below average stuff is hittable, he will walk batters if counts are worked and does not possess a put-away pitch once he gets to two-strike counts.

He does pitch well at home, however, and has handled most of the M’s lineup throughout his career. The one exception is Cano, who east Tillman alive, so look for Morales and Seager to do damage if Tillman chooses to pitch around the $240 million man.

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