Orioles at Astros Preview

Sports and Bets — June 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm by

With a 4-1 victory yesterday, the Birds are finally back in the win column. Thank God. It was nice to see Chris Tillman pitch well and Nelson Cruz continue his baseball demolishing ways. It was especially nice to see the O’s walk four times, including three straight to score two runs in the 5th inning. The Birds will try to salvage a split series with the Astros today, before continuing their 10-game road trip against the Rangers.

 Starting Pitchers

Wei-Yin Chen LHP (5-2, 4.50 ERA) vs. Scott Feldman RHP (3-2, 3.02 ERA)

Maybe Chen can serve as the spark to get this lineup going again. Chen is 9th in the MLB in run support, with the O’s scoring an average of 5.40 runs during his starts. Chen is coming off back-to-back rough starts, allowing 10 runs in 11 2/3 innings on 15 hits. Chen walked 0 batters over these two starts, but surrendered four home runs. Gopheritis and struggling to pitch deep into games remain Chen’s two biggest problems.

Feldman will try to start a new winning streak for the Astros today against his former club. Feldman has come back to earth after his torrid start to the season. In four April starts, Feldman posted a 1.69 ERA, compared to a 4.71 ERA over four May starts. As we saw from Feldman last year, he doesn’t strikeout a lot of batters or light up the radar gun. He’s going to try to get batters to extend the strike zone to produce weak contact. Hopefully, yesterday’s game wasn’t a fluke, and the O’s are trying to exhibit some more patience at the plate.

Lineups

Orioles

  1. Nick Markakis DH
  2. Manny Machado 3B
  3. Nelson Cruz RF
  4. Adam Jones CF
  5. Chris Davis 1B
  6. J.J. Hardy SS
  7. Jonathan Schoop 2B
  8. David Lough LF
  9. Nick Hundley C

Astros

  1. Jose Altuve 2B
  2. George Springer RF
  3. Dexter Fowler CF
  4. Matt Dominguez 3B
  5. Chris Carter DH
  6. Jesus Guzman 1B
  7. Robbie Grossman LF
  8. Carlos Corporan C
  9. Jonathan Villar SS

Matchups to Watch

Chen has pitched very well against the Astros in his career, going 2-0 in two starts with a 3.14 ERA and 13 strikeouts over 14/13 innings. Chen pitched a beauty against the Astros earlier this season, earning the win after allowing two runs on five hits and a walk over seven innings. Current Astros are only hitting .222/.263/.352 with a home run over 54 at-bats off Chen. Altuve and Dominguez have had the most success against Chen, going 3-for-7 and 3-for-6, respectively. It all starts with Altuve and Springer for the Astros, if the O’s can keep them hitless like they did yesterday, they will be in great shape to leave Houston with a win.

Feldman has been solid against the Birds over his career, going 4-1 with a 3.75 ERA over 13 appearences (seven starts). He pitched well against the O’s earlier this season, getting a no-decision after allowing two runs on five hits over six innings. The O’s have had some success against Feldman over the years, slashing .278/.293/.456 with two home runs over 90 at-bats. Markakis has seen Feldman the most and he’s been quite productive in his opportunities, going 8-for-24 off the righty. Jones has had the most trouble with Feldman, going only 2-for-18.

Machado is 3-for-5 off Feldman with a home run and a triple, and it would be great news for the Birds if he could get things going. Machado’s .220 batting average is dreadful, but I’m much more concerned about his inability to drive the baseball this season. Last year, Machado hit 51 doubles and 14 home runs over 667 at-bats. This year, he’s hit one double and two home runs over 109 at-bats. Those are very troubling numbers for such a key cog in the Orioles’ offense.

manny

 Gut Check Time 

The O’s went 1-0 in March, 11-12 in April, and 15-15 in May for a total record of 27-27. The season is now a third of the way over, and it’s time for the Orioles to show if they are contenders or pretenders this season. Cruz, Markakis, and Hardy will be free agents when the season ends, while Davis and Wieters will be free agents after next season. The window to win is right now for the Birds. They have their mom’s spaghetti vomited on their sweater and Mekhi Phifer is passing them the mic. This is it. If they don’t start to show some urgency and string some wins together, they’ll be sitting at home again for the playoffs, and who knows when they’ll have another chance this good to do something special.

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