Series Preview: Orioles at Athletics

The Orioles are coming off of a sweep of the Royals, a 5-3 home stand, a 5-0 win streak, and a .500 season average heading into 6-game road set on the West Coast starting off with the Oakland Athletics who have gone 2-6 in their last 8. The Orioles have an opportunity to sweep another under .500 team and get above .500 for the first time in a while.

Baltimore Orioles:
2011 Regular Season Record: 24-24, 4th in AL East (3 GB)
Runs Scored: 201 Runs Allowed: 218

Oakland Athletics:
2011 Regular Season Record: 24-27, 4th in AL West (2.5 GB)
Runs Scored: 181 Runs Allowed: 147

PITCHING MATCH-UPS

Friday May 27: RHP Chris Tillman (2-3, 4.95 ERA) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-2, 2.20 ERA):
Tillman has been anything but consistent this season. However, recently, he’s been more decent than bad, which is a good sign. In this match-up, he obviously faces a tough opponent in Gonzalez, whose numbers look a lot like Britton’s. Tillman has to keep his cool and his confidence and remember to just throw his stuff and not let a few runs get in his way because it will all go down hill from there. The offense is clearly where it should have been all season so even if he lets up a few runs, the team still has a good chance to win and he needs to remember that so his emotions don’t get in the way. In his last outing, he went 5 innings giving up 6 hits but only 1 run with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks against Washington in which he got the no decision.

Gonzalez’s most recent start was a no decision, but prior to that, he’s coming off of 3 straight wins. In the no decision against the Padres, he went 6 2/3 innings giving up 8 hits but only 2 runs with 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. The A’s lost this game, but that’s clearly a very good outing. His 3 wins all resulted in the A’s winning and he gave up a combined 10 hits, 4 runs, 7 walks, and 20 strikeouts over 20 2/3 innings. That’s pretty good and he’s definitely a strikeout kind of pitcher so Reynolds and Vladdy could be in trouble against him. He’s only faced part of the Orioles current line-up but against those that he has faced, the O’s have a .244 batting average against him with 9 strikeouts and no homers.

Saturday May 28: RHP Brad Bergesen (1-5, 5.64 ERA) vs. LHP Josh Outman (0-0, 1.29 ERA):
This is one match-up that does not look good for Orioles fans. We all know that Bergie cannot cut it as a starter at the major league level because he just cannot throw his pitches. He has no command or consistency and hasn’t pitched since May 19th against the Yankees. That’s the game where the Orioles got routed 13-2 and where he only lasted 3 1/3 innings giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 8 runs. Before that, he had his complete game 4-hit shut-out against the Rays, his only real good start all season. Who knows what we’ll get out of him in this game but it’s a lot more likely to get another bad start. This is most likely his last outing as a starter before Matusz comes back. The A’s are hitting .297 against him with 1 homer and only 3 RBIs.

Outman has only pitched one game this season after being called up from Triple A. In that outing, he went 7 innings giving up 5 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, and striking out 2. That’s a good start and Bergesen has his hands full in this match-up. Hopefully, the offense can break Outman down to give Bergesen a large margin of error to work with.

Sunday May 29: LHP Zach Britton (5-2, 2.35 ERA) vs. RHP Guillermo Moscoso (1-0, 0.00 ERA):
There’s no need to continue to gush about Britton, but it’s hard not to. He’s been the best, most consistent, most reliable guy on the mound for the Orioles this season and he really has not disappointed yet. He’s gone 3 no decisions in a row and had his arguably worst outing last week against the Royals, and it wasn’t a bad start. He did give up 9 hits, but only allowed 3 runs. He’s been a recent victim of lack of run support, but the Orioles ended that last time as well, scoring 5 runs against the Royals. It’s hard to imagine the team losing when he’s on the mound, much less him getting a loss, especially against an under-.500 team.

Moscoso has also been recently called up from Triple A to replace Tyson Ross who went on the DL. He’s pitched one game against the Angels this season where he went 6 innings, giving up only 3 hits, walking 3, striking out 3, and shutting out the Angels. He was obviously on his game and this is looking to be a great match-up.

WHO’S HOT
Baltimore Orioles:

I apologize for having so many players here, but it’s hard to pick between them and they’re all just on fire.
Adam Jones: 8 for 27 in his last 7 days, which is a .296 average. He has 3 doubles, a homer (the walk-off against the Royals), and 5 RBIs.
Nick Markakis: He’s riding a 10-game hitting streak as well as a .320 batting average in the past week. Although he only has 1 RBI, he gets on base so often and has 6 runs scored.
Matt Wieters: The catcher is also riding a 10-game hitting streak, hitting only .211 but with 4 RBIs, 2 doubles, and 3 runs scored in the last 7 days.
Nolan Reimold: He’s only played in 4 games since being called up, but in those 4 games he’s hitting .545 going 6 for 11 with 6 runs scored, 3 homers, and 6 RBIs. This guy is looking to be pretty dangerous.

Oakland Athletics:
David DeJesus: The right-fielder is hitting .429 in the last week with 2 homers and 4 RBIs.

WHO’S COLD
Baltimore Orioles:

It’s very hard to find anyone cold on the team right now. The offense has kicked into overdrive and even Mark Reynolds is hitting .300 in the last week (my typical go-to guy for this part of the preview).
Robert Andino: Hitting .235 in the last 7 days, he has only 1 RBI and 3 runs scored.

Oakland Athletics:
Hideki Matsui: In the last week, he’s only hitting .167 with 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored, and a 2 for 12 at-bat appearance.
Mark Ellis: With a .200 batting average in the past 7 days, he has no homers, no RBIs, and has only gone 4 for 20.

INJURY UPDATES
Baltimore Orioles:

P Justin Duchscherer: On the 60-day DL, his status is still listed as expected back possibly in June, which isn’t a good sign since he was originally expected back by the end of May.
SS Cesar Izturis: Also on the 60-day DL, his expected return is TBA as he’s having elbow surgery due to nerve irritation in the right elbow which has resulted from his Tommy John surgery in 2005.
1B Derrek Lee: On the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique, he is expected to return early next month.
P Brian Matusz: His expected return has moved from late May to early June because he is making his third rehab start tonight, May 27. This will likely be his last rehab start before coming back.
2B Brian Roberts: Though he is still on the 7-day DL, he has no timetable for his return due to his concussion-like symptoms. He started physical therapy 2 days ago.

Oakland Athletics:
I apologize in advance but the A’s have quite a few injuries.
P Andrew Bailey: On the 15-day DL with a strained right forearm, he is expected back in late May and is scheduled for a rehab appearance tonight.
P Dallas Braden: He is out for the season with left shoulder inflammation and had successful surgery earlier this month.
P Rich Harden: He is on the 60-day DL and his return is TBD with lat muscle soreness (the same thing Luke Scott has). He has been limited to strengthening activities for this month.
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff: He is day-to-day with a right groin strain. He could play tonight, it’s not clear if he will or not yet so we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
P Brandon McCarthy: Also on the 15-day DL, his return is TBD with a stress reaction in his right scapula.
3B Adam Rosales: On the 60-day DL and expected back in June, he had right foot surgery and began exhibition games on May 20.
P Tyson Ross: The started was recently placed on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain and his return is TBD.

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