Sonny Gray, the subject of much scorn from New York Yankees fans for his ineffectiveness this season, shut the Orioles down for the third time this season in a 9-0 win Wednesday night at Camden Yards.
The way he did it, throwing less than 50 percent fastballs and keeping the Orioles off balance, is no surprise. Nor that it happened at all. He is the 16th starting pitcher this season to throw at least six innings without allowing an earned run against the Orioles, with such a start happening just a little less frequently than once every six games.
What's perhaps most surprising is that Gray didn't join the list of pitchers whose best start of the season came against the Orioles, one that's almost just as long.
According to Baseball-Reference.com's calculation of game score, the traditional formula that places the quality of a pitcher's start on a 1-100 scale with 50 being roughly the quality start line, 15 starters have had their best outings of the season against the Orioles. Another eight, including Gray's game score of 76 on Wednesday, had their second-best outing against them.
That means nearly a quarter — 24.7 percent — of every Orioles game has featured an opposing starter tossing one of his best outings of the season. Adjusting for the 74 different starters they've faced as opposed to the 93 games they've played, it's 31.1 percent.
For every Max Scherzer — whose game score of 89 on May 30 against the Orioles was the fourth highest of anyone all season, but wasn't even his best — there's a Luis Cessa. And while Gray has more pedigree than his 5.46 ERA might indicate, every pitcher facing the struggling Orioles offense knows it's a chance to right the ship.
"That's probably a way to look at it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I'm sure that's human nature, human emotion. Starting pitchers sit around for four days and they all know who they're facing two or three times, if they stay in turn. They all know that.
"Some people look at it that way, and some people look at it another way, 'There's a team on paper I should do real well against,' and it actually works against them. So there's two ways to look at that. I think Sonny Gray is too good a pitcher to stay where he was all year."
Facing these Orioles sure helped. Gray was responsible for the 53rd quality start against the Orioles this season, and contributed to their 10th shutout loss of the season. With 3.59 runs per game entering Wednesday, they ranked second-worst in the American League in run production, and Wednesday was their league-worst 58th game held to three runs or fewer.