There's nothing that looks so much like the cure to a four-game losing streak as running into a pitcher who's yet to lose a start on the season. Matt Moore of the Rays is not skating by in Hammelian fashion with run support, either. When you've got a 2.44 ERA, there is nothing surprising about being 7-0 - except maybe that the bullpen hasn't caused him more no-decisions.
That's the challenge for the Orioles today. The ERA is daunting, but if you look at a stat like FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), he sports a 4.43 instead. What accounts for the discrepancy? Running across the line on his Fangraphs stats page tells the story. 51 strikeouts in 48 innings is impressive, but he's also walked 25 to go along with that, and given up seven home runs.
There is potential there, and also in this: maintaining a BABIP of .193 is not something that happens to starting pitchers. That dark god will have its due. That is not in doubt. Even Verlander in Cy Young territory wasn't that lucky. Between that and the fact that Moore prevents more than nine out of ten base runners who reach from scoring a run, things are due to flip around on him. Against an Orioles team that's scored 16 runs in two games while losing both may be the time that luck starts to catch up with him.
Or, we could be about to watch the wrong end of a complete-game shutout as the losing streak hits five games with New York set to come into town.
Staff ace-by-default Chris Tillman will be the one to try to stop the bleeding. Being as he was the starting pitcher the last time the O's won a game, this is the closest we can get to encouraging. Also encouraging is that Tillman has made five straight quality starts, which is always a sign you're giving your team a chance, if not quite a guarantee of winning a game when matched against Moore.
You might feel that shred of optimism, then see Steve Pearce in left field. Why would this happen? Platoon splits, my friend. Pearce is not hitting terribly lately, having pulled his OPS up to a .759 that's still higher than the likes of Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters. Yeah, I know, what the heck is that about?
Freddy Garcia is starting tomorrow, so go ahead and win this one today, fellas.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Desmond Jennings - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Matt Joyce - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Ben Zobrist - 2B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Steve Pearce - LF||James Loney - 1B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Luke Scott - DH|
|Danny Valencia - DH||Kelly Johnson - LF|
|Yamaico Navarro - 2B||Jose Lobaton - C|
|Chris Snyder - C||Yunel Escobar - SS|