Series Preview: Athletics @ Orioles

Oakland Athletics (10-10, T-2nd AL West) @ Baltimore Orioles (12-7, T-1st AL East)

The Orioles second sweep of the season has pushed them to a 12-7 record, good enough for a tie with Tampa Bay for the division lead. It was also the second series win versus the Toronto Blue Jays on the season. The O’s remain at home for the weekend to take on the visiting Oakland Athletics (also coming off of a series win at home versus the Chicago White Sox).

As surprising as an Orioles series sweep is, it gets even more surprising after you learn Brian Matusz was on the mound for one of the games. He didn’t get a win, but definitely had his best start of the season (if not best start in the past two seasons). The offense was relatively silent yet again, but quality outings from the starters (Hunter, Hammel, and Matusz), plus even better relief pitching helped lead the way (okay, the Toronto outfield helped at one point….). In all, the bullpen provided eight scoreless innings, and that was without closer Jim Johnson, who has been hospitalized with a stomach virus. The A’s will bring rookie CF Yoenis Cespedes to town for the first time. Some of you might be hoping he hits home runs to assist your HR Derby league team…..

Three game set begins tonight at 7:05pm. Jake Arrieta goes for the O’s against Brandon McCarthy, which should be a pretty solid matchup. McCarthy does not yet have a win this season, but he’s got pretty good stuff. Games two and three will be at 7:05pm and 1:35 on Saturday and Sunday. Chen and Hunter will also pitch for the Orioles.

Game 1 (Friday @ 7:05pm):

Probable Pitchers:

OAK – Brandon McCarthy (RHP, 0-3, 3.38 ERA)

BAL – Jake Arrieta (RHP, 1-1, 4.01 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Not gaudy numbers, but McCarthy was solid and ended as a 4.7 WAR player last season. Throws a fastball, cutter, and slider. Also not a hard-thrower, with a fastball that sits around 90 MPH. Really targets the outer part of the plate against righties. Currently getting hit very well by left-handed hitters, but that hasn’t been the norm throughout his career (.256 vs. lefties and .254 vs. righties).

Key Stats:

Endy Chavez and Nick Markakis are both 3 for 11 lifetime off of McCarthy (Nick’s OPS is .994). Adam Jones is 3 for 8. Nobody else on the current roster has more than 3 ABs vs. the Oakland righty. McCarthy, however, has thrown 6 innings at Camden Yards and has been hit relatively hard. Oakland hitters are 6 for 17 (.353) off of Arrieta, but none have left the yard.

Game 2 (Saturday @ 7:05pm):

Probable Pitchers:

OAK – Tyson Ross (RHP, 1-0, 2.13 ERA)

BAL – Wei-Yin Chen (LHP, 1-0, 2.60 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Started with the Athletics pitching mostly from the bullpen, but has now assumed the starter role. Primarily a fastball pitcher, but throws a slider and a changeup as well. Fastball comes in at about 92 MPH while the slider dips into the mid-80s. Lefties have a slightly higher average (.264 vs. .249) than righties. Has fared better in Oakland than he has away from the Overstock.com Coliseum.

Key Stats:

Only 5 Orioles have at-bats against Ross. Those ABs total a 1 for 8 (Adam Jones has that one hit). Obviously, the A’s have yet to face Wei-Yin Chen. The Oriole bullpen, however, has had success against the current A’s lineup. Luis Ayala is the lone "struggle" out of the pen.

Game 3 (Sunday @ 1:35pm)

Probable Pitchers:

OAK – Bartolo Colon (RHP, 3-2, 2.62 ERA)

BAL – Tommy Hunter (RHP, 2-1, 4.74 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Velocity has remained in the low 90s for the fastball which is pretty solid for a 38-year old in his 14th season. Did not pitch in 2010, but a big drop off on his use of the changeup between 2009 and 2011 (use of the slider has increased, however). Very solid in April throughout his career. Batters have a .243/.300/.397 slash line off of Colon in the month.

Key Stats:

Oriole hitters are 28-111 (.252) lifetime. J.J. Hardy (1-10) and Matt Wieters (1-7) have not fared well. Adam Jones is 5-16, but does not have an XBH. Two Oriole hitters have home runs vs. Colon. Those two? Chris Davis and Nick Johnson. Yes…I didn’t guess that one either. Oakland got a chance to see Hunter a bit from his time as a Texas Ranger. They managed a 19-65 (.292) clip. Kurt Suzuki went 5-16 with 2 doubles. Coco Crisp is 3-9 with a home run.

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