The disappointing right-hander tries to help the Orioles avoid losing a series at Kauffman Stadium for the first time in six years as they close a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
After combining for 29 wins and a 4.31 ERA over the previous two years, Lopez (6-11, 6.73 ERA) has been inconsistent this season. Every time he has a solid outing, as he did July 16 when he threw 5 2-3 scoreless innings to beat Texas, he seems to come back with a bad one, like on Saturday as he lost to Tampa Bay by allowing seven runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 13-12 defeat.
“All of the games are frustrating in different ways. Tonight was just one of many that I’ve had this year,” Lopez said Saturday. “I wish I could’ve stayed longer in the game, because these guys kept fighting and fighting and scored a lot of runs.”
The right-hander has lasted just 17 2-3 innings in four outings this month. He’s also 0-3 with a 13.85 ERA in his last four starts on the road.
Left-handed batters are hitting .333 against Lopez, who is facing the Royals for the first time this season. He won his first two career starts against them but has been awful in the last three, going 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA.
The Orioles could use a good start from Lopez because their rotation is in shambles.
Adam Loewen, who got his first major league win in Baltimore’s 4-3 victory on Wednesday, was called up from the minors earlier this month to join the staff after struggling right-hander Daniel Cabrera was sent down.
Russ Ortiz was removed from the rotation after going 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in four starts since being acquired off waivers last month. Bruce Chen may take his spot and pitch Saturday despite going 0-6 with a 7.03 ERA this season in 23 games, including 10 starts.
“We’re working on a plan to fill that spot,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “We might need a starter Sunday also. We’ve got some ideas, we’ve still got Russ, we’ve still got Chen. We may have to go down and get a minor league guy.”
Baltimore goes into Thursday having won five series and tied one at Kansas City since losing two of three games there from Aug. 11-13, 2000.
The Orioles have not had a winning season this decade, but are 16-6 at Kauffman Stadium since the 2000 season.
They’ll be facing Jimmy Gobble (3-3, 4.88), who was inserted into Kansas City’s rotation at the start this month. He beat Minnesota on July 4 but has since gone 0-2 with a 9.51 ERA in three starts.
The left-hander went only four innings last Thursday, giving up four runs and six hits in the Royals’ 9-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The good news for Gobble, who won his only career start versus Baltimore in 2004, is the Orioles are 10-25 this season when the opponent starts a southpaw.
Kansas City has lost six of nine despite allowing just 3.2 runs per game in that span.
It’s uncertain if Royals first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz will be able to play after sitting out Wednesday due to a back problem.