Series Preview: Orioles @ Twins, 2 - 4 May

Buck's boys head to Minnesota after a sweep of the double header - Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles hit the road following a double-header sweep - first stop: Minnesota. Jimenez, Chen, and Gonzalez scheduled for the Orioles. Nolasco, Correia, and Hughes for the Twins.

Friday, 2 May (8:10pm) - Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Ricky Nolasco
2014 Stats Jimenez (0-4)
Nolasco (2-2)
IP 27.1
29.2
ERA 6.59
6.67
FIP 5.95
5.36
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .297/.398/.473
.344/.388/.573

Game notes:  Ubaldo Jimenez will start his second consecutive Friday game.  The walks are just killing him and until he brings down that 5+ BB/9, he's going to continue to struggle.  His slider and curve haven't been very effective, so he's throwing a lot more splitters, especially to LHB.  PITCHf/x has not recorded a changeup thrown this season....

A reason to watch:  It's a nice ballpark?  On a serious note, this is primed up to be a big evening for offenses if you consider the successes of the starters.  No hitter from either lineup has recorded 10+ PAs against the opposing starter.  Also, Manny Machado makes his return for what could be his first full series of the season.  That's always a reason to watch.

Scouting Report: We're only through one month of the season, but Nolasco has been getting roasted thus far.  Batters have been feasting on his fastball and slider.  He is, however, going to make just his second start at home and his first at Target Field was excellent.  Lefties have been Nolasco's primary weakness in 2014.  He's always pitched RHB better, but the split has been very pronounced so far.  He throws several different fastballs (four seam, two seam, cutter, splitter), as well as a curveball, changeup, and slider.  Nolasco usually gets his punchouts via the slider or curveball, although this season, he hasn't gotten any of those (3.94 K/9).

Saturday, 3 May (2:10pm) - Wei-Yin Chen vs. Kevin Correia
2014 Stats Chen (3-1)
Correia (0-3)
IP 29.0 27.0
ERA 4.34 7.33
FIP 2.72 4.21
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .320/.359/.425 .319/.371/.487

Game notes: Chen has been looking better with each start. He's starting to get deeper into games, all while upping his strikeout numbers.  He's done an outstanding job keeping the ball in the park so far (currently pitching to a career high GB%), but that does mean the contact he's allowing ends up elsewhere in the park.  Chen currently sports a BABIP of .388, well above his career average, and has allowed 39 hits.

A reason to watch: The infield defense.  It's whole again and that will certainly help a team that has seen some questionable plays a SS and 3B with Jonathan Schoop and/or Ryan Flaherty manning those spots.  Plus, watching Hardy and Machado work is a thing of beauty anyway.  Machado might be the best 3B in the league (we'll see if that knee affects him early) and Hardy isn't far behind at SS.

Scouting report: Correia, too, is struggling early in his second season with the Twins.  His ERA is sky-high, although FIP suggests he's at least somewhat better than that.  That number may, however, have something to do with his miniscule 4.8% HR/FB rate.  RHB are hitting him very well and slug north of .600 (.346 against LHB).  Correia tosses a fastball, slider, curve, change, and cutter.  He throws about an equal mix of four and two seamers that generally sit around 90, although he's averaged in the high 80s thus far.  The two seam fastball is generally his plus pitch, although his curve was decent in 2012 and 2013.

Maybe hot: J.J. Hardy (4-11, .871 OPS)

Maybe not: Sam Fuld (.231 SLG, .516 OPS, 14 PA)

Sunday, 4 May (2:10pm) - Miguel Gonzalez vs. Phil Hughes
2014 Stats Gonzalez (1-2)
Hughes (2-1)
IP 26.0 28.0
ERA 5.19 5.14
FIP 5.28 3.42
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .282/.351/.510 .290/.331/.478

Game notes: Miguel Gonzalez was the tough luck loser in his last start, getting no support from either the offense or defense.  He's struggling against the RHBs so far, allowing an OPS over 1.00 (compared to .723 vs. LHB), but some of that is simply recovery from his first two starts.  His last three have been much more promising, although it seems as though he could attack hitters much more than he's doing and possibly weaken their contact.  This will be his first career start vs. the Twins.

A reason to watch: Nick Markakis has been swinging a hot bat lately.  He also has pretty solid career numbers against Phil Hughes - something the majority of the O's lineup cannot say.  Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and J.J. Hardy have all struggled mightily against the Twins righty.

Scouting report: Phil Hughes is a pretty familiar face after his time with the Yankees.  He's now moved on to Minnesota with a fairly large contract.  That was probably a solid move for him, as Target Field is certainly less hitter friendly than Yankee Stadium.  Hughes seems to vary his arsenal by the season.  He came up with the Yankees with the typical fastball (92.2), slider (81.8), curve (74.9), change (83.8) offerings, but added a cutter (87.9) by his third season.  He dropped the slider the following season and started throwing a two seam fastball.  As of 2014, he seems to have dropped both the two seam and the cutter in favor of the slider.

Maybe hot: Nick Markakis (.858 OPS, 49 PA)

Maybe not: Adam Jones (.545 OPS, 44 PA)

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