Game Preview 07/01: Orioles Travel to Turner Field to take on the Braves and their Stupid Tomahawk Chop
After a pathetic sweep by the Cardinals at home and a 2-5 home stand they head to Atlanta for the first of many road series (after Atlanta is 3 games against the Rangers then 4 against the Red Sox before the All-Star Break). Atlanta stands at 47-35 and 2nd in the NL East besides the best-record-in-the-league Phillies. Though they’re a pretty good team this year, they are 20th, 26th, 25th, and 20th overall in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage, respectively. The Orioles are 19th, 8th, 10th, 11th in those categories, respectively. Yet, the Braves have the much better record compared to Baltimore’s not-so-great 35-43 and that’s the one stat that matters most. In Atlanta’s last 7 games, they’re 5-2 and are dealing one of the best pitchers in the NL to our boys to start off the series.
Jair Jurrjens was signed as un drafted free agent in 2003 by the Detroit Tigers. He made his major league debut in August, 2007 against the Cleveland Indians where he gave up 4 runs and 7 hits in the loss. He became the first pitcher from Curacao to reach the majors. In October of 2007, Jurrjens was traded to the Braves and he was ranked as their 3rd best prospect by Baseball America heading into the 2008 season. He finished his rookie season as a full starter with a 13-10 record and a 3.68 ERA. However, people were still worried he’d have a sophomore slump in his 2nd season. He didn’t. He went 14-10 and finished 3rd in the league with an ERA of 2.60. This season, he’s even more impressive. He’s 10-3 with a tiny ERA of 2.07. He’s coming off 2 wins and his last start against the Padres resulted in 6 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts.
If this wasn’t tough enough for the struggling Orioles, Showalter is countering with Guthrie. We know how he’s struggled this season. He either pitches really well and gets no run support or when he does get run support, he gives up lots of runs. Tonight, it’s going to be the former situation. The O’s are going to have a tough time scoring runs on Jurrjens which means Guthrie will pitch well too but not well enough to beat Jurrjens. Hopefully I’m wrong, but so far this season that’s how it goes with Guthrie. He’s 3-9 this season with a 3.93 ERA. In his last start he went 5 2/3 innings giving up 6 hits and 4 runs with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts. It wasn’t a great start, but he got the win because he got some run support.
Who to watch out for:
The Braves’ Brian McCann. This guy is leading the team in every offensive stat. Batting average: .314. Home runs: 14. RBIs: 47. OBP: .388. Hits: 83. Yeah, he’s a scary force to be reckoned with and this guy can do some serious damage. In the last 7 days, he’s hitting .429 with 4 runs scored, a homer, 4 RBIs, and 2 walks.
The Orioles’ Nick Markakis. Our home-grown fan favorite is finally delivering as he’s currently riding an 18-game hitting streak, 11 of which are multi-hit games and of which he’s hitting .414 during the streak. He also has 2 homers and 12 RBIs in that time.