Birds in Beantown

Must win series…or something like that. Listen, yes this is a big series starting today but let’s not go crazy here. The Orioles are starting Wade Miley tonight, and will face Porcello in the 3rd game of this series. It’s pretty reasonable to think they may only take one game here and that’s ok.

Most projection models have the 2nd WC spot coming in at 88 wins; which means the O’s simply need to go 10-10 the rest of the way. With 7 of the 20 games against the Red Sox though, they are going to have to beat them at some point over the next few weeks.

The series has been an entertaining one to say the least with 112 runs crossing the plate in the 12 games so far this year. The Red Sox have hit Baltimore well this year, which isn’t all that surprising given the state of the pitching staff. Their OPS is almost .050 higher against the Birds (.878) than it is against all other teams. The power numbers have also been off (or rather over) the wall in this series with 40 home runs in the 12 games, this should lead to some exciting games.

Bundy should provide the Orioles with their best chance at a win, barring an outing like the last one in Tampa. Since moving to the rotation in mid-July Bundy hasn’t had back to back poor outings, his ERA as a starter is subpar at 4.31 but discounting the last start against Tampa, he put together a 3.49 ERA over 7 starts since the beginning of August while facing some decent clubs in Texas, Boston, the Nationals, and the Yankees twice during their surge.

Miley has obviously been the problem child of the rotation. Since coming to Baltimore at the beginning of August he’s put out a 7.14 ERA, a 1.72 WHIP and 8.69/3.10 K/BB per 9. Miley is yet to start a game against the Red Sox this year so maybe he’ll be able to surprise them.

As usual the bullpen is going to play a major factor here. Miley and Bundy both on the mound are averaging less than 5 2/3 per start since the beginning of August. Miley has no excuse (other than his poor performance) for not getting through 6. Bundy may have a pitch count or Buck may be a little worried about the wear and tear as he’s well over the number of innings projected for this year so it may not be all his fault. His velocity has been dropping as the season wears on.

Gausman goes up against Porcello on Wednesday in what could be the best matchup of the series. This will be a game to sit back and watch, enjoy, and probably burn a whole in the floor as you pace back and forth for 3 hours. Well that might be a statement for the next 3 weeks. Enjoy the ride.

On to Detroit

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).