Two losses against a barely-.500 team thanks to ugly bullpen meltdowns bring things to the real challenge: avoiding the sweep while facing off against one of the pitchers who is getting the best results in the National League this season.
Patrick Corbin may not be right up there in the debate between Matt Harvey and Clayton Kershaw for Cy Young, but he has started 23 games this season and has gone fewer than six innings one time. He has recorded a quality start in 20 of his 23 games and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 18 of his 23 games. This is the slash line of opponents against him: .209/.271/.325. Sure, a number of those at-bats are pitchers or crappy pinch-hitters, but that's still impressive.
Also, he's left-handed, so there is that to contend with. He may have "only" a 12-3 record due to poor run support, but he's been the best pitcher on the Diamondbacks by far. The Orioles have messed around and lost games started by inferior pitchers, and now they have to win a game started by someone who is performing at the ace level this season. Corbin has a 1.60 ERA at home this season. Well, good luck!
The good news is that what passes for an ace of the Orioles staff will be pitching today. That would be Chris Tillman, whose 14-3 record is superior to Corbin's, so obviously Tillman has been a better pitcher this year. For a guy with problems giving up home runs, maybe this center field setup in Chase Field will be ideal for him. Or not. I don't know. 24 home runs is a lot of home runs, and just for comparison, Tillman's slash line of batters against him this year: .250/.318/.428.
Tillman has to face designated hitters and probably all-around superior lineups on a more regular basis, not to mention he has to pitch half of his games in Camden Yards. He's been better on the road, but not 1.60 ERA better. Actually, he has a 2.97 ERA on the road, which is something to be happy about. On the other hand, as mentioned, he gives up a bazillion home runs, and there was this guy Paul Goldschmidt who burned the Orioles yesterday...
This is the 17-game stretch against crappy teams where the Orioles were supposed to boost themselves up in the standings. They are 13 games into the stretch and are 7-6 in these games. A loss today because it's hard to beat a pitcher like Corbin would mean 7-7 as they head back home to face Colorado. That will not be getting them into the playoffs.
On the other hand, if they luck their way into a win today and then go home and sweep Colorado, they could be right back in a playoff spot at the end of the weekend.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Gerardo Parra - RF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Martin Prado - LF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Aaron Hill - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Matt Davidson - 3B|
|Steve Pearce - LF||Wil Nieves - C|
|Taylor Teagarden - C||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Didi Gregorius - SS|
|Chris Tillman - P||Patrick Corbin - P|