The possibility of winning four games in a row is on the table. Can the Orioles manage to do that? They only won four or more in a row three times all of last season, and they never did more than five in a row. On paper, you'd think they would have an easy time of it here, with the woeful Astros coming in to town, but paper and reality are often two different things.
Time: 7:05pm Eastern Place: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
TV: MASN (Baltimore), CSN Houston
Radio: Orioles Radio Network; Houston broadcasts: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM (Spanish)
RHP Scott Feldman, Astros
2014: 4 GS, 26.2 IP, 1.69 ERA, 9 SO, 9 BB, .176 BAA, 0.94 WHIP
Last start (vs. Royals): 6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
Feldman has been on the disabled list since his last start on April 17. He suffered a biceps injury that sidelined him for several weeks and will be returning in time to face the team where he spent several months of last season. Orioles fans know well that Feldman is not the kind of pitcher who is going to sport a 1.69 ERA or a .176 batting average against for the long haul. You have to hope that starts to turn back to what you'd expect tonight.
How has Feldman gotten the results he has so far? Well, part of that is surely tied in luck with a .195 BABIP (batting average on balls in play). On the other hand, Houston is now known as the most aggressively-shifting team and Feldman has been getting ground balls 54.3% of the time. If they're shifting to the right places and Feldman is executing pitches into the shift, that could account for a lot of what you might otherwise attribute to luck.
The results are striking for a guy who's lost 3-4mph off of his fastball compared to what he was getting in 2012. He is only throwing 87-88 on average, according to Fangraphs.
LHP Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
2014: 6 GS, 34 IP, 4.24 ERA, 28 SO, 8 BB, .313 BAA, 1.56 WHIP
Last start (@ Twins): 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 5 SO
It's interesting to contrast the results of Chen against the results of Feldman. Chen would seem to have some poor BABIP luck, with a .377 number that is very high above the league average (.294). Is it luck, or is bad pitches, or are the Orioles not making good defensive alignments? His ground ball rate is up and his walk rate is down. You'd think that would translate to some good numbers, but it hasn't as of yet.
So far, Chen gets bombed the second time through the order. The batting line against him the first time around is .226/.241/.302. The second time around it's .360/.407/.560. Yikes.
Orioles (w/ career stats vs. Feldman)
|RF Nick Markakis (L)||6-21, 3 2B|
|3B Manny Machado (R)||2-2, 3B|
|LF Nelson Cruz (R)||2-6|
|CF Adam Jones (R)||1-15, 4 K|
|DH Matt Wieters (S)||3-10|
|SS J.J.Hardy (R)||1-3, 2B|
|C Steve Clevenger (L)||none|
|1B Steve Pearce (R)||none|
|2B Jonathan Schoop||none|
The Orioles offense is pretty bad at everything except losing, as Stacey addressed earlier today.
Astros (w/ career stats vs. Chen)
|2B Jose Altuve (R)||2-4|
|SS Jonathan Villar (S)||1-3|
|CF Dexter Fowler (S)||0-3|
|1B Jesus Guzman (R)||none|
|DH Chris Carter (R)||0-5, BB, 3 K|
|RF George Springer (R)||none|
|3B Matt Dominguez (R)||1-3|
|C Carlos Corporan (S)||0-3, 2 K|
|LF L.J. Hoes (R)||none|
In terms of scoring runs, the Astros are the worst in the American League by a fair amount. They've played in three more games than the Orioles have and have scored 17 fewer runs. Yet they have hit more homers than the O's, which is surprising. Still, against lefties, they bat a dismal .249/.303/.357. If Chen can't take advantage of this lineup, that's a bad sign going forward. The Astros don't have a single lefty batter in the starting lineup tonight.