The Orioles are riding a season-high five-game winning streak into Tuesday night's game. Can they make it six? This is the first time they've even won five games so far this year. Six games was their longest winning streak last year.
It turns out that it's hard to rack up long winning streaks with a shaky starting rotation. Standing between the O's and six games in a row is Jason Hammel, the least-reliable of the current rotation. In the four previous starts, O's starters have pitched 29 innings while giving up only six earned runs. That's pretty good, but none of it means Hammel will be good or not good.
As well, the O's will have to face one of their ongoing nemeses, namely a soft-tossing lefty in Royals starter Bruce Chen. They may be contractually incapable of performing well against these sorts of pitchers, especially ones on bad teams that they need to beat. With a solid winning streak at stake, they need to beat him even more, and are probably about to get no-hit.
Despite everything I just said, several Orioles actually have good numbers against Chen in mostly small samples. Danny Valencia leads the way with an 11-20 including four doubles and a triple. That amounts to a 1.421 OPS. Nick Markakis is 8-16 with three doubles and a home run, and Adam Jones is 6-16 with a home run. Those are all good signs, certainly better than if everyone was 0-for-Chen.
Will they have any offense in them after unleashing 18 hits last night? Can Hammel add yet another excellent start to the ledger for the rotation coming out of the All-Star Break? These are the prime questions. Maybe we will like the answers, or maybe we will find ourselves frustrated yet again as Boston keeps on winning and the Orioles lose a little of the ground they've clawed back in the last few days.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||KANSAS CITY ROYALS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Alex Gordon - LF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Eric Hosmer - 1B|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Lorenzo Cain - CF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Billy Butler - DH|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Mike Moustakas - 3B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||David Lough - RF|
|Danny Valencia - DH||George Kottaras - C|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Alcides Escobar - SS|
|Taylor Teagarden - C||Chris Getz - 2B|