After rallying last weekend in Arlington to keep their playoff aspirations alive, the Orioles will now look to keep the positive energy flowing during their upcoming three-game set versus the holders of the second wild card spot in the AL, the Kansas City Royals. For a team that is trying to claw their way back into a playoff spot, they can’t afford to go backwards against the club that they are currently trying to track down.
The Orioles’ upcoming seven-game home stand will be their biggest home stand of the season to date, as they simply can’t afford to tread water any longer. If they want to really make a challenge in the wild card hunt, they’ll need to lay it all on the line and start stringing results together. There’s still plenty of time to launch themselves up the wild card standings, but the clock is indeed ticking.
Simply put, it’s time to put up or shut up. And the only way to do that is to go on a winning streak.
The Orioles (50-54) still find themselves in fourth place in the division and 6.5-games off the pace of the division-leading Yankees, but are just three games behind the third-place Rays and a very attainable 5.5-games behind the Royals for the second and final wild card slot. The O’s have recorded an impressive 30-21 mark in the friendly confines of Camden Yards on the year and have turned things around as of late with an 8-5 record over their last thirteen contests. However, their recent feel-good vibes will be put to the test against another Midwest foe-and the Orioles have gone just 8-16 versus the AL Central this season.
The Royals (55-48) have been on a red-hot tear recently, and after going 10-1 over their last eleven games, Kansas City is now just two games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central. They’ve also upped their lead over the Tampa Bay Rays to 2.5-games for the final wild card spot. After reeling off a sensational nine-game win streak which just came to a halt last Saturday versus the Red Sox, the O’s will need to bring their “A game” to slow these guys down.
Easier said than done. The Royals swept the Orioles (Not for the first time) over a three-game set in KC back in May and as a result, the Royals now own a 21-13 advantage over the Orioles since the start of the 2013 season.
Will the Orioles stay alive before the Detroit rolls into town, or will the red-hot Royals land a critical blow to the Orioles playoff hopes?
Let’s take a look at the starters.
Jimenez turned in an excellent performance during his last start in Tampa and finished his start having allowed just two runs on three hits over six innings. Alas, his lack of run support and a lethal two-run bomb by Evan Longoria put him in the loss column. Over his last five outings, Jimenez has recorded a 1-4 record and an 8.28 ERA. He’s also gone just 1-2 with an 8.42 ERA over seven starts at Camden Yards this season.
Duffy stayed in top form during his last start versus Detroit and allowed just a single run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. The Royals southpaw has gone 2-1 with an excellent 2.75 ERA over his last three outings and 18 2/3 combined innings. Over eight career contests (six starts) versus the Orioles, Duffy has been lights out. He owns a 2-2 record to go along with a stellar 2.41 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .207 BAA lifetime versus Baltimore.
Bundy was tagged to the tune of seven runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings versus Houston the last time he took the mound, and his recent struggles have been a major cause for concern. Over his last six starts, Bundy owns a 2-3 record and a 7.96 ERA. Over his last nine outings, he’s gone 3-5 with a 6.99 ERA. He’ll be looking to turn it around during his upcoming second career start versus the Royals.
Kennedy was dominant during his last time out versus the Tigers and allowed just a single run on three hits over six innings. Kennedy has bounced back into form this month and owns a clean 2-0 record and a rock-solid 3.68 ERA over five starts in July. He’s also been impressive away from Kauffman Stadium this season with a 4-2 record and a 3.97 ERA over ten starts on the road.
The Orioles list the starter as TBD for the series finale versus Jason Vargas (13-4, 3.00 ERA) on Sunday.
The speculation surrounding this is that the newly acquired Jeremy Hellickson could make his Orioles debut during this match-up, but stay tuned.
Vargas finally snapped back into top form during his last start versus Boston and allowed just one run on five hits over six innings. However, after rolling through the first three months of the season with a remarkable 12-3 record and a superb 2.22 ERA over sixteen starts, Vargas has struggled this month and owns a 7.23 ERA through four starts in July. Rest assured, Vargas still owns the Orioles. Over eight career starts versus Baltimore, Vargas has gone 2-3 despite boasting a sensational 1.94 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and .224 BAA against them.
That’s it for now, Birdland!
Enjoy the series!