The Orioles have just finished a stretch of 11 games against sub-.500 baseball teams. They went 8-3 over that span, which is actually pretty much what you'd hope for, though of course individual losses were frustrating, especially yesterday's Chris Tillman failure. The cakewalk is over. Fellow division leader Detroit is in town to begin a three-game series.
Time: 7:05pm Eastern Place: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
TV: MASN (Baltimore), Fox Sports Detroit
Radio: Orioles Radio Network; 97.1 FM (Detroit)
Hang on a second, a starter is allowed to average more than six innings per game? I wish that someone would tell the Orioles about this. Porcello used to kind of remind me of Jake Arrieta if only in the sense of how people talked about him like he was going to be a big thing soon and then he just kind of kept pitching in the majors and not doing too great. Arrieta wishes he had Porcello's career 4.46 ERA, though. Porcello is one of those poster children for underachieving relative to his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) expectation.
Porcello may be the kind of guy that the Orioles will do well against, if only because he almost never walks anybody. Being as the Orioles like to swing, they might as well be swinging at pitches in the strike zone. So far this year, his ground ball rate has dropped significantly, from 55% last year to 43.9%, and yet he's getting better results than ever. Luck? Figuring out something new at age 25? He is sporting a .286 BABIP with a career number of .311, so the temptation is there to think it's luck, especially with him getting fewer grounders.
Back in April, he faced the Orioles and allowed only one run on three hits over 6.2 innings.
What could possibly go wrong with the homer-prone Norris against this lineup? We all know how it will end. About all we can hope is that he will cut down on the walks that were such a problem in his last start so that maybe he will be able to scratch out six innings before it's time to pull him from the game.
Orioles (w/ career stats vs. Porcello)
|RF Nick Markakis (L)||9-21, 2B, HR, 3 BB|
|3B Manny Machado (R)||2-7, BB|
|CF Adam Jones (R)||3-21, 6 SO|
|1B Chris Davis (L)||5-15, 3 HR|
|LF Nelson Cruz (R)||4-23, 6 SO|
|SS J.J.Hardy (R)||7-17, 2B|
|C Steve Clevenger (L)||2-3, 2B|
|DH Delmon Young (R)||8-22, 2B, HR|
|2B Jonathan Schoop (R)||0-2|
It's not very hard to see why Young is getting the start at DH today, given that history against Porcello. A bigger mystery might be why the statuesque Cruz will be in left field with such poor numbers when the better defender, David Lough, could probably stand to get a start. Perhaps Cruz will surprise us, or perhaps he will be, as our friends across the pond might say, in for a bit of a bollocking.
Tigers (w/ career stats vs. Norris)
|2B Ian Kinsler (R)||1-5, BB|
|RF Torii Hunter (R)||3-9, 2B, HR|
|1B Miguel Cabrera (R)||2-9, 2 2B|
|DH Victor Martinez (S)||2-9, HR|
|CF Austin Jackson (R)||2-3|
|3B Nick Castellanos (R)||none|
|C Alex Avila (S)||0-8, 3 SO|
|SS Andrew Romine (S)||none|
|LF Rajai Davis (R)||1-4|
Not much to be gleaned based on history here, considering that no one has faced Norris more than nine times total. The Tigers are averaging 4.87 runs per game. Against right-handed pitchers, they are batting .278/.330/.414. That is pretty good. But maybe they won't be good tonight. After all, if the Orioles mysteriously suck against not-great pitchers, everyone else must have those nights too, right?