After hosting the Reds at Camden Yards for the first time since it opened in 1992 and finally winning a series, they bring in another NL Central team that’s never played at Oriole Park looking for another series win. And lucky for us and them, they play the Cards without Albert Pujols. They’ve gone 1-5 since losing Pujols and have lost 12 of their last 15. The O’s have gone 5-9 in that same stretch but are obviously coming off a high winning the Reds series. These two teams, while they haven’t played since 2003, go way, way back when they were playing in the same city. For 52 years, St. Louis hosted not only the Cardinals but also the Browns who moved in 1954 to become our now-beloved Baltimore Orioles.
The Cardinals are currently sitting at just a few games over .500 with a 41-38 record and they’re 2nd in the NL Central (obviously it’s not a very strong division). However, they have very high stats as a team. They are 5th overall with 369 runs scored. The O’s have scored 313 runs and are only 19th overall. St. Louis is 2nd overall in batting average with a .269 while the Orioles are 9th overall with a .260. In on base percentage, the Cards rank 3rd at .341 whereas the Orioles rank 9th at .324. Finally, the Cards rank 7th overall in slugging percentage at .411 and the O’s aren’t far behind at 11th with a .402 slugging percentage.
With all that said, this is looking to be a pretty even- and great- match-up and I think the O’s have a good chance of winning this series as well as long as the pitching holds up. Onto tonight’s game…
1. He is 1 of only 3 non-Hispanic Native Americans in the league.
2. He’s been around for a while. He was drafted by the Cubs in 1996. He was traded to the Twins 3 years later where he made his major league debut in 2001.
3. 2002 was his first full season being a starter in which he went 13-8 with an ERA of 4.23. The next season he went 14-11 in 33 starts with a 4.61 ERA.
4. In 2006, he was traded to the Reds. In 2007, he was traded to the Phillies where his performance improved drastically. He went 2-0 in 10 starts with the Phillies (due to late-game rallies he received a lot of no decisions) and his ERA was at 4.44.
5. In 2008, he signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals. That season he went 11-2 in the first half with a 3.39 ERA. Later on, he got suspended for 5 games for throwing at Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez (who we just saw Friday night and who we beat). He then signed a 4-year, $$41-million contract extension in 2008.
6. He has some experience in the outfield as well. He played left field in a 20-inning game against the Mets while the Cardinals SS pitched.
7. This season he’s continuing his great success. Hes currently 7-4 with a small ERA of 2.91. His worst start this season came at the beginning of May when he gave up 5 runs on 6 hits and 3 homeruns. Yep, his worst start was giving up 5 runs.
8. SCOUTING REPORT: He throws a low-90′s fastball to counter his dominant curve ball.
I’ve already given you the 411 on him so just to go over his season stats again. After going 5-1 in as many starts in April and the beginning of May, Britton hasn’t been quite as dominant as of late. He’s had 4 no decisions since that time and has gone 2-4 since May 6th bringing his season record to 6-5 with a 3.19 ERA. He still has the best ERA on the team and even though he doesn’t have the best record, he as the best chance of getting a win everytime he steps on the mound. The reason I say that he does over Arrieta is because Arrieta has a ridiculous amount of run support per 9 innings that Britton doesn’t have. His last start was a decent 6 innings of work where he gave up 7 hits and 5 runs only 3 of them were earned (due to the 2-run error by Blake Davis). He only walked 1 though and struck out 5. The O’s lost basically because the Pirates scored the tying and go-ahead run on that error by Davis and the offense couldn’t come back so that was an unlucky break for Zach. He’s looking for his first win since June 8th.
For the Cardinals, Lance Berkman is by far their greatest offensive player. He’s currently batting .297 with 18 homeruns and 54 RBIs. He leads the team in all 3 of those stats. In the last week, he’s cooled off a bit hitting .208 going 5 for 24 with 1 homer and 3 RBIs.
We know how hot the O’s offense has been. Mark Reynolds leads the team with 14 homeruns having hit 2 in the last 10 games as well as having hits in 8 of the last 10 games. Adam Jones is batting .294 and leads the team with RBIs at 45. He also has 3 homeruns in the last 7 days and 5 RBIs. He follows Reynolds with 13 homers. Nick Markakis is on a 17-game hitting streak of which he’s hitting .405. In the last week, he’s hitting .417 with a homer and 4 RBIs but going 10 for 24. J.J. Hardy leads the team in batting average at .304 and has 10 homers already as well as 29 RBIs. In the last week, he has 2 homers and 5 RBIs and is batting .348. This is the best time to be playing the Cardinals and to take on Kyle Lohse because the O’s need to be as hot as possible since he’s such a dominant pitcher. If the O’s are going to lose any of these 3 games, it will probably be this one.