The Houston Astros have the worst record in the American League. They also have the longest active winning streak in MLB, having won their last six games, including a four-game sweep of the Angels, who recently had a long winning streak of their own. Baseball is weird sometimes.
This is the first time the Orioles will get to play the Astros since they joined the AL. All year long, the prospect of facing them was a reason to salivate. And yet they just dispatched their West rivals. Even the worst team in the AL is still going to compete night in and night out, still string together some wins and get some big hits - or, if nothing else, break up the perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning. Marwin Gonzalez lurks in the 9th place in the batting order tonight.
Speaking of perfect games, there is some serious reverse lock potential in that regard with Houston starter Lucas Harrell. He has managed only four quality starts in twelve games, sports a dreadful 1.79 WHIP, and somehow "only" a 5.37 ERA. 37 walks in 63.2 innings will do a guy in most of the time, especially when he's also given up 77 hits in that time. With as hard as he gets hit, you might figure he'd be surrendering more home runs, but he's only allowed eight of those. Still, it amounts to players slugging .464 off Harrell, with an .868 OPS in all. That is approximately Manny Machado.
Chris Tillman gets the start for the Orioles. He's given up at least two home runs in four of his last five starts. Houston, for all of its woes at scoring runs, is in the middle of the pack in MLB for homers, with 60 being good for 14th of the 30 teams. On the year, Tillman's HR/9 is 1.99. Home runs are his biggest problem. About one in six fly balls that batters have hit off of Tillman have ended up being home runs. That hurts. It could even happen tonight.
Keep the ball down, Chris! But don't have the curveball in the dirt unless it's the right count for it. Otherwise they just don't swing at that stuff and then you're throwing way too many balls and way too many pitches. You know, garden-variety Orioles pitcher problems, being unable to throw that out pitch and put guys away. What else is new?
Here's one thing that's new: Chris Davis has hit 20 home runs. The season is about 35% complete. If he keeps homering at that pace, he will end up with 56 home runs. In all of MLB, Davis is second in batting average, third in OBP and leads in slugging percentage.
This is not actually new in that he's been leading in these categories for most of the year, but it still blows my mind. If Davis went 2-5 with a single and a double tonight, his batting average would go up, but his OBP and SLG would go down. There are only two other players in MLB who could say the same. Wow.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||HOUSTON ASTROS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Brandon Barnes - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Jose Altuve - 2B|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Jason Castro - C|
|Adam Jones - CF||J.D. Martinez - LF|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Carlos Pena - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Chris Carter - 1B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Jimmy Paredes - RF|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Matt Dominguez - 3B|
|Danny Valencia - DH||Marwin Gonzalez - SS|