After wrapping up their last home stand of the first half with a massive 7-1 win on Sunday versus the Rays, the Orioles will look to hit the break on a high note during their upcoming seven-game, two-legged tour through the great lakes region.
Before ending the first half in Minneapolis, the Orioles first order of business is a three-night stay in Milwaukee against the NL Central-leading Brewers.
The Orioles (40-41) will head into the Cream City currently in fourth place in the division and have seen the gap between them and the first place Red Sox grow to 6.5-games, but they remain just a game and a half out of a wild card spot despite their subpar first half performance. The sailing has been anything but smooth over the past two months, but the Orioles have weathered the storm and their vital signs remain intact as we approach the Mid-Summer Classic.
The Orioles struggles this season have mainly occurred while on the road as they own just a 15-25 record away from Camden Yards, and they’ve gone just 8-19 while on tour since the start of May. However, after going 4-2 during their latest intercontinental road trip at the end of June, it looks as if the Orioles may have broken the curse.
The Brewers (44-40) currently own a two-game lead over the reigning world champion Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, much to the surprise of just about everyone. They’ve done so by not only boasting the NL’s fifth-best offense (4.8 runs per game) and an NL-leading 127 home runs and 70 stolen bases, but they’ve been balanced out by an above average pitching staff. While their 23-23 record at home isn’t exactly glamorous, they’ve started to heat up at Miller Park with a 9-6 record over their last fifteen games in the Brew City.
The upcoming three-game set versus the Brewers will mark the third time that the Orioles have visited Miller Park since 2008. During their last trip to Wisconsin in May 2014, the Brewers took two of three against their inter-league visitors. During inter-league play this season, the Orioles own the upper hand with an 8-3 record while their hosts are 4-3.
Will the Orioles continue their dominance versus the National League, or will the surprise first place hosts continue to turn heads?
Only time will reveal the answer. Let’s look at the starters.
Miley wasn’t exactly impressive during his last outing versus Toronto in which he allowed three runs on six hits over five innings, and control remains an issue for the Orioles southpaw. Over his last five starts, Miley has recorded a 1-3 record along with a 9.58 ERA. However, Miley’s struggles have been magnified on the road. Over eight starts at home, he’s 2-3 with a rock-solid 3.60 ERA. Over eight starts away from Camden Yards, Miley is just 1-3 with a 5.44 ERA.
Suter, 27, will be filling in for the recently injured Chase Anderson. The Chicago native and Harvard alum will be making his first start since allowing three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings against St. Louis on June 13th. The southpaw got the nod over Paolo Espino and former Orioles prospect Josh Hader, who’s thrown 9 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Brewers since making his MLB debut on June 10th.
Jimenez was incredible versus the Blue Jays during his last outing in which he allowed just two hits over eight shutout innings. The Orioles sporadic hurler has now pitched seven-plus innings while allowing four hits or less and two runs or less in two of his last three starts.
Nelson has been on fire for quite some time now, and he kept it rolling during his last start versus the Reds by allowing just two runs on three hits over seven stellar innings. The 28-year-old Oregon native recorded a stellar 2.28 ERA over five starts in May and then followed up by posting an impressive 2.88 ERA over six starts in June. Over nine starts at Miller Park, Nelson has gone 3-3 with a filthy 2.64 ERA.
Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.90 ERA) will get the nod versus former Oriole killer Matt Garza (3-4, 4.26 ERA) in the series finale on Tuesday. (Note: The recently promoted Jayson Aquino will get the start if Tillman goes on paternity leave before Tuesday).
Tillman has gone through a real-life nightmare so far during the 2017 campaign. Over his last eight starts, he’s gone 0-5 with a 9.89 ERA. Over his last five outings, he’s gone 0-2 with a 11.25 ERA. To make matters worse for the Orioles struggling veteran, he’s winless on the road this season over four starts and has notched a woeful 12.33 ERA in the process. Hopefully, his last start versus Tampa in which he allowed just two runs on seven hits over five innings will provide the spark going forward.
Garza hasn’t produced the goods as of late, and has won just once over his last eight starts. Over five contests in June, the Brewers veteran recorded a 1-2 record along with a 4.97 ERA. He also owns a mortal 4.71 ERA over seven starts at Miller Park this season. The bad news for the Orioles, however, is that the former Tampa Bay Ray owns an amazing 9-1 record and an impressive 3.11 ERA over thirteen career starts against the Birds.
That’s it for now, Orioles nation!
And Happy Birthday America!