At the time of writing this post, the O’s have just been rained out of the series finale in Arlington, and have lost their first series of the year. They now stand with a record of 8-3, and are in first place in the American League East, by 1.5 games over the Boston Red Sox. Standing this early in the season don’t mean much to me, but it’s always nice knowing your ball club is in first place. A quick recap of the Texas series shows that the O’s had two games where their starter unraveled, and one game where the offense exploded, literally, hitting 4 home runs in an inning. This blog isn’t about the managerial blunder from Saturday evening, but I will say this, just when you think Buck Showalter made the wrong decision, let me know how your last managed MLB game went. Buck has made some silly decisions in his 6 years here, but he has confidence in his pitchers, and shoots for a 100-pitch outing. If it makes sense, let them go for it, if not yank them. In the situation last night, it may not have made the most sense, but Yovani was left in, 2 runners were put on, and McFarland let them, and another score. It is what it is at this point, I digress.
Tuesday, April 19: Marcus Stroman (2-0, 4.22) vs. Mike Wright (1-0, 7.20)
Mike Wright will (finally) get his 2nd start of the year on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. You have to feel for Mike as his first start was postponed, and now his second start, scheduled to be Sunday in Texas, was called off due to rain as well. Wright will try to secure his second win on the year, going up against a Toronto team that has dominated him in his previous (and only) 2 starts against them. A lifetime 0-2 record, coupled with an ERA of 9.45 shows that the Blue Jays don’t mess around with Wright on the mound. It may be a good thing the O’s bullpen will have had a 2-day rest by the time Tuesday rolls around. Marcus Stroman is a career 1-1 pitched going against the Orioles, in 2 starts. With the potent HR threat, practically in every batter, the O’s have only hit 2 HR’s off of Stroman in those 2 starts.
Wednesday, April 20: TBD vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 3.75)
Ubaldo Jiminez is going to get the start for game 2. Last season against Toronto, Ubaldo found some success, going 3-1 in 4 starts, while posting a respectable 2.55 ERA. Ubaldo is coming off a start in Boston where he only lasted 5 innings, and allowed 4 runs on 6 hits while striking out 5, and walking 4. Ubaldo is going to need to have his command, in perfect form come Wednesday night, as the Blue Jays are 8th in the AL in walks (35), and will be most certainly trying to get Ubaldo’s pitch count on the plus side of 100 by the 5th inning. Lets hope Tuesday’s night’s game sees Wright go deep, so the bullpen does not get overworked.
Thursday, April 21: TBD vs. Chris Tillman (1-1, 5.11)
At the time of this post, the Blue Jays have not announced who Thursday nights starter will be, but they’ve announced we’ll see R.A. Dickey, and Marco Estrada after Stroman, and we know they will be going up against Chris Tillman. If Tillman wants to stay on Birdland’s good graces, he is going to need to get back to form, and by form I mean his 2014 self, where he went 13-6, with a 3.34 ERA. We all hope that wasn’t just a fluke year. Chris threw 5.1 innings on Thursday against Texas, and was roughed up for 6 runs, all of which were earned, on 9 hits while striking out only 1 batter. When we discuss Tillman’s career stats against Toronto, you cant help but to cringe. In 20 starts, Chris has a lifetime ERA of 5,79, and a record of an abismal 4-10. Last season alone, Tillman was 0-4, with a terrible 11.72 ERA. Let’s move on.
All-in-all, do NOT expect any pitchers duels when the defending American League East Champions come to town this week. As a matter of fact, it’s a good thing the Orioles are still leading the AL in HR’s (23) and Slugging % (.540). They’ll need every bit of offense they can get.