Orioles @ Astros lineups and game notes - May 29

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Buck is going with a different look. Steve Pearce will be in left and hit second. Machado falls to 7th in the lineup. Flaherty gets the call at second base. Ubaldo Jimenez takes the bump against the streaking Astros. Houston will send righty Brad Peacock to the hill to open a four-game set.

Ok, I know this is gonna sound weird, but Houston has won five games in a row, including a sweep of the Royals in Kansas City. The team is on fire, especially George Springer, who has hit six home runs in six games. But this is a bad team; they lost four in a row before this recent stretch. If the O's are to compete, they need to beat teams like this.

Pitchers

RHP Brad Peacock, Houston

2014 stats: 10 G, 6 GS, 1-4, 5.20 ERA, 45.0 IP, 6 HR, 30 BB, 44 SO, .259 BAA, 1.67 WHIP
Last start (vs. Chi. White Sox): 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 5 SO, W

Pitch Selection in 2014 (Fangraphs)

Pitch Type Usage Velocity
Fastball 53.7% 92.2
Slider 18.2% 82.6
Curveball 19.5% 76.0
Change-up 9.8% 81.2

Peacock has been one of Houston's weak links. Much of that is a result of his astronomical walk numbers.  Six batters every nine innings get a free pass from the righty. On the other hand, he has managed to strikeout nearly one batter every inning. We have seen this before, the Orioles tend to make high walk, high strikeout guys look like All-Stars.

His last four starts have been much better. He has tossed between six and 6.2 innings each time. However, he hasn't thrown in 11 days. That could be a benefit or a curse. 

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, Baltimore

2014 stats: 10 G, 2-6, 4.98 ERA, 56.0 IP, 6 HR, 28 BB, 51 SO, .269 BAA, 1.54 WHIP
Last start (vs. Cleveland):  4.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, 3 SO, L

Jimenez is trending the wrong way. He has folllowed three solid starts in early May with two awful ones against the Royals and the Indians. Over those two games he has only gone nine total innings and allowed ten runs. On a positive note, he has also struck out ten in those innings.

His biggest issue has been his failure to throw strikes. He walked five in four innings his last time out. This Houston team is in the top ten in walks but they also strikeout a heck of a lot

Lineups

Orioles 

RF Nick Markakis (L)
LF Steve Pearce (R)
CF Adam Jones (R)
1B Chris Davis (L)
DH Nelson Cruz (R)
SS J.J. Hardy (R)
3B Manny Machado (R)
2B Ryan Flaherty (L)
C Nick Hundley (R)

Obviously, there is a lot of movement here. Pearce gets a go in left and he deserves it. In the last seven games he has played, his average has risen from .271 to a robust .328. Machado has been struggling. He only has one double after hitting 51 a year ago. And the Flahrt returns. I mean, he adds a lefty bat. So, that's good.

Only one member of the Orioles has ever faced Peacock; David Lough is 1-for-2 lifetime, but he is on the bench. Everyone else is a fresh face. 

Astros

2B Jose Altuve (R)
RF George Springer (R)
CF Dexter Fowler (S)
C Jason Castro (L)
3B Matt Dominguez (R)
1B Chris Carter (R)
LF Alex Presley (L)
DH Robbie Grossman (S)
SS Jonathan Villar (S)

It is all small sample sizes again across the board. Altuve has seen Ubaldo the most, going 2-for-8. The man on fire is Springer. He has been smashing the ball as of late,showing what made him the 18th rated prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. But these are the Astros. Jimenez can handle them, right? Right!?

Game Notes

  • Nelson Cruz has 48 RBI before June 1. That is the second most in Orioles history behind Chris Davis' 50 last season.
  • Cruz has set a club record with 12 home runs in May, passing Jim Gentile's previous high of 11
  • Dylan Bundy threw three innings in Sarsota today. The plan is to throw four next week
  • Bundy's fastball sat at 91 and topped out at 92. His line: 3 IP, 0 H, 3 BB, 4 SO
  • The O's are 6-3 in road series openers this season.
  • The Orioles lead the MLB with a .988 fielding percentage and tied for the fewest errors (23) with the Reds
  • Johan Santana will make one more start in Sarasota and then join the Tides on June 8. Then he will pitch for the Baysox on June 13. He could theoretically join Baltimore as early as June 18.
  • Santana has reportedly looked good; fastball at 86-88 mph,chage-up; 72-78, slider; 77-81. The O's people want him to sharpen his feel for the change-up.
  • Matt Wieters will do some light throwing tomorrow.

Notes courtesy of Orioles Public Relations by way of MASN's Roch Kubatko

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