The Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox kick off a three-game set from Camden Yards on Monday evening. What should you be watching for in this series? Here are a few big things.
After going 3-4 on the road against American League East foes Boston and Tampa Bay, the Baltimore Orioles returned to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for a six-game slate against the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. The homestand didn’t begin on the most positive of notes.
Baltimore dropped all three games this past weekend against the Twins and were outscored 26-15. Minnesota hitters combined for 11 home runs and 37 hits total as their sweep of the Orioles resulted in ending the weekend on top of the American League Central. However, it wasn’t all bad for the Orioles.
Trey Mancini continued his hot start with four hits on the weekend (including two doubles), Renato Nunez hit not one, not two, but three home runs, and Chris Davis upped his batting average to .130. Not only that, but Davis also took to the mound and pitched better than some O’s relievers have through the first three-plus weeks of the season.
The biggest story of the weekend belonged to relief pitcher Branden Kline. The reliever made one appearance on Saturday and was immediately returned to the Norfolk Tides, however, Kline’s appearance in a Baltimore Orioles uniform was bigger than anything that can be put into words. Despite multiple elbow surgeries and having the odds stacked against him, the electric, homegrown reliever took to the mound Saturday evening and then his mom brought a tear to all of our eyes.
Let’s put the Minnesota series behind us and look ahead to the upcoming three-game set against the Chicago White Sox.
An Updated Look At The Standings For The Baltimore Orioles.
Here’s where each team currently sits in the standings, as of Monday morning.
American League East-
- Tampa Bay: 14-8
- New York: 11-10
- Toronto: 11-12
- Boston: 9-13
- Baltimore: 8-15
American League Central-
- Minnesota: 12-7
- Cleveland: 12-9
- Detroit: 10-10
- Chicago: 8-12
- Kansas City: 7-15
Both the O’s and White Sox enter the series with eight wins, however, Chicago enters on a much higher note. The Sox took two of three from the Yankees last weekend, followed by a series win against the Royals before dropping two of three to the Tigers (Saturday’s game was postponed).
Probable starting pitching matchups.
Wednesday (7:05 pm): TBD vs Ervin Santana (0-1, 10.38 ERA)
The good news is that the Orioles will avoid Carlos Rodon in this series. The bad news is that both Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana have a history of pitching pretty well against Baltimore. Neither pitcher has much history against anyone on the current O’s roster, except for Chris Davis performing fairly well against Santana, so maybe this season’s more patient version of the Orioles can produce better results. Hopefully, Wednesday’s TBD turns into John Means. He’s the best pitcher on the roster, at the moment, and deserves to be taking the mound every five days until he proves otherwise.
Three Can’t-Miss Things In This Series.
Shortstop Tim Anderson cannot be stopped. He’s one of the hottest players in baseball to start the season and bat-flipped his way into the hearts of fans across the country.
Anderson’s stick is doing more than talking. It’s demanding your attention. In 17 games, Anderson is hitting .418 with four home runs and a 1.085 OPS. His 195 wRC+ and 1.1 fWAR are among the best in the league, while his 18.6% strikeout rate is a significant improvement over his career average. Anderson is also a perfect 9-9 in stolen base attempts. Will he challenge Jesus Sucre and Pedro Severino? I hope so.
Anderson isn’t hitting the ball hard, his average exit velocity on balls in play is among the bottom 25% of hitters. Instead, he’s using his two-strike approach to place the ball where fielders aren’t. His spray chart is a thing of beauty and shows a high percentage of base hits coming on two-strike counts. That could become a major issue, seeing as this Baltimore Orioles pitching staff struggles to finish off hitters once they get two strikes.
What about Yoan Moncada? Moncada is currently second on the team in batting average with a .317 mark. He leads the White Sox in home runs (6), doubles (6), RBI (18), and runs scored (17). He’s probably still striking out a lot, right? Not really.
His strikeout rate is down, his whiff rate is down, and only a very small handful of hitters are hitting the ball harder than Moncada. Going up against O’s pitchers in Camden Yards could turn into a fireworks show, quickly.
Lastly, there’s Eloy Jimenez, one of the most exciting young players in the game.
Jimenez is hitting just .231 with a .286 OBP, however, his home runs have been mammoth shots and he has the potential to completely change a game with one swing of the bat. Baltimore pitchers are going to have a very hard time containing this Chicago lineup.
Orioles’ pitchers have combined ERA of 6.21, the worst mark in the majors by more than half a run, they have given up 57 home runs in 23 games, and opponents are hitting a league-best .287 against them. Chicago is a strikeout-prone team, but Baltimore’s staff ranks 27th in strikeouts, only the White Sox, Twins, and Rangers have fewer strikeouts.
First pitch for tonight’s game is set for 7:05 pm. Will the Baltimore Orioles turn things around and take this series?