After the annual MASN Cup was put on hold due to Thursday’s rainout, the Orioles will now head to Kansas City to take on a familiar foe over the weekend.
Still, after taking two of three from the National League’s best, the O’s should be feeling pretty good going into the middle point of their three-legged, eight-game road swing.
The Orioles (22-11) reclaimed their slim lead over New York for first place in the division as a result of their efforts versus Washington. They now boast an impressive 7-3 record over the first ten games of May.
The Royals (13-21) have gotten off to a woeful start this season and are set to host the O’s as the cellar-dwellars of the AL Central. They also own the AL’s worst record through the first 34 games of the season. However, the Royals seem to be recovering from a brutal month of April and have posted a respectable 6-5 mark thus far in May.
While this clash between the second-best and the worst team in the American League seems to slant heavily in favor of the Orioles, the history between these two clubs makes it more of an illusion.
Since the start of 2013, the Orioles are just 5-10 at Kauffman Stadium. And that’s not including a few brutal October losses at “The K” back in 2014.
In other words, this building doesn’t hold a high place in the Orioles’ “Favorite places to visit” list.
Will the Orioles make history irrelevant, or will the hosts pull off an upset?
Let’s take a look at the projected starters:
Bundy has been incredible for the Orioles so far this season, and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. He’s gone 4-0 with a superb 1.95 ERA over his last five starts.
Duffy has lost his first two starts of May after posting a 2-1 record and a stellar 2.81 ERA in April, but has allowed one run or fewer in four of his seven starts to date. He’s also gone six-plus innings in five of seven. Other than the sensational Jason Vargas (5-1, 1.01 ERA), Duffy has been KC’s best starter in 2017.
While Tillman is still on his way back to being in vintage form, the Orioles veteran ace battled admirably and came up with a win on his season debut after shutting out the White Sox over five innings on May 7th. In eight career starts versus Kansas City, Tillman is 3-3 with a 5.29 ERA.
Karns has been outstanding this month, winning both of his starts while allowing just two runs on seven hits and striking out an impressive 17 batters over 12 1/3 innings. The former Ray stuck it to his former club in his last start by allowing just two runs over 6 1/3 innings while recording ten strikeouts in a winning effort.
Kevin Gausman (2-3, 6.63 ERA) will get the nod against presumably Chris Young (0-0, 5.93 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday.
While Gausman’s 2017 season has been anything but smooth sailing, he turned in his finest performance yet versus the Nationals, allowing just two runs on five hits over seven innings with just one walk and eight strikeouts on May 8th. Here’s to hoping that this was the return of the real Kevin Gausman.
If given the nod, Young will be filling in for the injured Ian Kennedy for the second turn in a row. He allowed four runs on seven hits over three innings during his first start of the season in Tampa on Tuesday.
– The Orioles offense has finally sprung to life. After posting a .283 average with 17 runs on seven homers versus DC and their diamond-studded pitching staff, the Orioles are now hitting .276 as a team over their last 13 games while scoring 70 runs (5.4 per game) on 17 home runs during that span.
– The O’s have also been killing it with runners in scoring position. They finished the clash with the Nationals with a stellar 8-for-20 clip in that department, and are now hitting a ridiculous .333 (35-for-105) with runners in scoring position over the past 13 games.
– However, the O’s red-hot bats have a stiff test on their hands this weekend. Duffy has gone 2-2 with an impressive 2.37 ERA over five career starts versus Baltimore while holding them to a .183 batting average in the process. Karns is 1-1 with a solid 3.72 ERA in five career starts against the Orioles, and has also held them to a lowly .194 average.
– Adam Jones (1-for-15), Manny Machado (0-for-11) and Chris Davis (1-for-10) probably won’t be too excited about facing Duffy. Jonathan Schoop (3-for-9) and Mark Trumbo (3-for-8, 1 HR, 2 RBI) could be in line for a good night.
– Machado (1-for-13) and Jones (3-for-12) won’t be thrilled about facing Karns again, either. Davis (3-for-10, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and Schoop (3-for-4) could have a firework or two in store, though.
– While he seems to be flying under the radar, Seth Smith has been lighting it up lately. He’s 10-for-19 with five runs, two doubles, one homer and four RBI over the course of a current five-game hitting streak.
– After returning from a brief stint on the sidelines, Schoop has picked up right where he left off: on absolute fire. The O’s star second baseman finished the series against the Nationals 4-for-10 with three doubles, two runs and one RBI. He’s now hitting a sensational .347 (17-for-49) with one home run and eight RBI over his last 14 games.
– After a big week, Trumbo seems to be getting close to top form. After going 4-for-13 with a pair of home runs and four RBI versus Washington, the O’s in-form slugger is now hitting an incredible .379 (11-for-29) with five runs, two homers and five RBI during a current seven-game hitting streak.
That’s it for now, Orioles fans! Enjoy the weekend!