This may come as a shock, but it’s important to get out to leads early. The O’s play .792 baseball when taking a lead in to the 2nd inning. Detroit struggles mightily coming back in games. When tied of trailing after 4 the Tigers are playing .370 baseball.
Need to get out of the first. Tampa scored in the first inning in all three games at the graveyard that is The Trop. The rotation has been a problem, but of late hasn’t been as terrible over the course of the last month. On the whole the 1st inning has been the worst for the O’s giving up 15% of runs in the opening inning. The 6th has also been problematic, that being said the Orioles are playing .805 when leading or tied going in to the 6th.
On the Mound
Gausman, Jiménez, and Tillman (pending a throwing session Friday) are slated to go in this series. Gausman and Ubaldo are both coming off of great starts against the Yankees and Rays. Gausman in particular has been very good since the beginning of August with a single poor outing in San Francisco a long time ago now. Ubaldo fresh of his complete game win over the Rays, comes in and will have Zimmerman as a counterpart on Saturday. Zimmerman, who has had a couple of outings in Toledo, will be making his second start since the All-Star break. Tillman should be making the start Sunday after having some good rehab sessions for his shoulder problem. He’ll be opposite Verlander who’s had a resurgence this year.
On the Sticks and in the Field
Davis’ sore hand seems to be something he’s been dealing with all year and he’s been playing well recently at the plate and all season in the field. Manny, not much more needs to be said here, he’s been great all season and will be relied upon.
Calling Mr. Jones, the captain has had a bit of a down year, and the series against the Rays didn’t go well, 2 for 15 with 4 Ks in a series where the O’s scored 24 runs is a worry. Now’s when the team needs him to have a pick-me-up series. The leadoff man needs to get on base.
JJ Hardy has been a consistently been able to bring home 26% of all RISP this year despite struggling a bit at the plate. His stalwart defensive play is going to be relied upon as he makes up ¼ of a great defensive infield.
I expect we’ll see Kim back in the lineup for 1 or 2 games this weekend, but he’ll be battling for playing time with Pearce. Kim’s slowed down a bit batting .275 with a .340 OBP since the beginning of August (100 PA).
With the Tigers a single game back and Boston facing Toronto the Orioles have a great opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the Tigers as well as catching or surpassing either of Boston (2GB) or Toronto (1GB).