After getting drubbed and swept in their own ballpark by the Twins, the Orioles will look to bounce back in a hurry on the road as they prepare to take on the flying Houston Astros.
We were feeling really good after taking care of business versus Toronto. A lot can change in the span of five days.
But the same rule applies to both ends of the spectrum. A few wins on the road against the best team in the majors would do wonders for the Orioles’ psychological swagger.
It won’t be easy by any means, but that’s why they play the games.
The Orioles (25-20) are currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak and have hit a somber 3-10 snag in the road since visiting our nation’s capital. The road hasn’t been kind to the Orioles at all this month as they head into Houston with a 2-8 record away from Camden Yards thus far in May.
The Astros (32-16) have been smashing the league all season long, and if the early goings are any indication, they should be a team to watch out for in October. After lighting it up in April with a 16-9 record, they’ve already matched that thus far in May (16-7) and still have six games left to play until June rolls around. A twenty-win month is within reach for the hosts.
Houston’s sensational start to the season has been fueled by winning on both sides of the spectrum. They own the AL’s second-best offense (4.94 runs per game), are tied for second in the AL in homers (68) and rank third in batting average (.266). Their dangerous offense, however, is outdone by their stellar pitching staff. The Astros lead the AL in team ERA (3.51), strikeouts (469), WHIP (1.20), and BAA (.228) and rank second in team OBP against (.301).
The O’s will also be looking for some payback at Minute Maid Park this weekend after going just 1-6 versus the Astros last season. They’ve gone just 4-10 against Houston since the start of the 2015 campaign.
Let’s take a look at the starters:
Kevin Gausman (2-3, 6.65 ERA) will take on Joe Musgrove (3-4, 5.63 ERA) in tonight’s series opener.
Gausman recorded just his third quality start of the season after allowing two runs on ten hits over six innings against the Blue Jays, but the winning effort lowered his ERA this month to 5.19 over four starts. Gausman, however, will be looking to get it together on the road. He’s gone 1-2 with a dreadful 9.47 ERA, .357 BAA and 2.10 WHIP over five starts away from OPACY this season.
Musgrove hasn’t been much better for the Astros this season. He’s gone 1-4 with a woeful 6.44 ERA over six starts at home on the year, and he’s posted an ugly 6.75 ERA over four starts thus far in May.
Wade Miley (1-2, 2.59 ERA) will get the nod against Astros ace Dallas Keuchel (7-0, 1.84 ERA) on Saturday.
Miley was excellent during his last start against the Blue Jays and went seven superb innings without allowing an earned run. Due to his efforts in the tough-luck loss, Miley lowered his ERA in May to 3.06 over four starts, and now boasts a career-low 2.59 ERA on the year as we head into the weekend.
Keuchel missed just one start due to a pinched nerve and will be back to face the Birds. Keuchel has been practically unhittable at home this season, going 3-0 with a sparkling 0.94 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and .156 BAA over four starts at Minute Maid Park. Prior to picking up a minor knock, Keuchel was in the middle of a scintillating run of form during which he allowed one run or fewer in six of nine starts.
The question lingers: will Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2, 7.17 ERA) make his next scheduled start versus Lance McCullers (5-1, 2.43 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday?
While Jimenez has recorded a 6.86 ERA over three starts this month, maybe Buck should give him one more shot. Jimenez owns an impressive 4-1 record and 2.86 ERA over eleven career starts versus Houston.
The O’s will have to bring their ”A game” if they want to get anything going against McCullers at the moment. He’s recorded twenty-two straight scoreless innings and twenty-four straight innings without allowing an earned run. As a result of his stellar streak, McCullers owns a perfect 3-0 record and a miniscule 0.59 ERA over five starts this month. To make matters worse for the Orioles, he owns a clean 3-0 record and a superb 1.74 ERA over five starts at home on the year.
– In his only career start against the Orioles last August, the O’s tagged Musgrove to the tune of eight runs on eleven hits over 5 1/3 innings while clubbing three homers and six extra-base hits. J.J. Hardy (3-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI) led the way, while Hyun-soo Kim (3-for-3, 1 3B, 1 RBI), Jonathan Schoop (2-for-3) and Mark Trumbo (1-for-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI) also did some damage. Since they have to face Keuchel and McCullers over the weekend, let’s hope for more of the same on Friday.
– Over five career starts against the Birds, Keuchel has gone 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and .228 BAA. However, Trumbo (6-for-15, 3 HR, 7 RBI) has owned Keuchel in the past, while Adam Jones (4-for-16), Manny Machado (5-for-15), Schoop (4-for-13, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and Welington Castillo (4-for-10) have all had some success against the ‘Stros ace.
– The same can’t be said against Lance McCullers. He’s owned the Orioles both times he’s faced them, going 2-0 with a stellar 1.29 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and .104 BAA. Trumbo (3-for-6, 1 HR, 4 RBI) has hit him hard and Jones (2-for-6) has held his own against him, but that’s about it. Seth Smith (0-for-9), Chris Davis (0-for-7), Machado (0-for-4) and Schoop (0-for-2) are a combined 0-for-22 against Houston’s other ace.
– The Orioles pitching staff will have the tough task of shutting down the Astros potent line-up. Jose Altuve (.298, 7 HR, 22 RBI) and Carlos Correa (.288, 7 HR, 26 RBI) are leading the way as always, while they are joined by a star-studded supporting cast that includes Brian McCann (.269, 6 HR, 25 RBI), Josh Reddick (.281, 6 HR, 20 RBI), George Springer (.231, 9 HR, 24 RBI) and breakout slugger Marwin Gonzalez (.282, 11 HR, 28 RBI).
That’s it for now, Orioles fans! Enjoy the series!
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