Okay...so that series in New York didn’t turn out as planned. First game was rained out. Second game involved Chris Tillman’s straight as an arrow fastball being launched all over Yankee Stadium. Third game included great baserunning, solid managerial decisions, and even better pitching from the bullpen. Wait...scratch that last sentence. If you weren’t watching, well...that was lucky. Even after taking a 5-0 lead off of Phil Hughes (thanks in part to Nick Markakis), the Orioles still ended up losing 6-5. On the plus side, Kevin Gregg really stuck through that 9th inning and kept the O’s close, didn’t he? I’m going to break my rule of not bad-mouthing anybody in these series previews (and my other rule of not using first person) to say that I really don’t care if Kevin Gregg ever pitches again. In fact, I hope he’s DFA’d as soon as possible. I might lose my mind if his next Orioles appearance occurs in the 9th inning of a one run game. But…now back to regularly scheduled programming…
Your Baltimore Orioles get their first shot at redemption tonight as they kick off a three-game set with the AL Central Division leading Cleveland Indians. Cleveland has been solid so far this season and it is going to take a much better effort than the O’s mustered over the past two days to beat them. The Indians are coming off of a series loss themselves so both teams could use a few wins to hold the standings. We’ll get to see the better part of our rotation (so far, anyways) in Zach Britton and Jeremy Guthrie. Brad Bergesen will also make a start after his most recent was washed out. Nice to see the likes of Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters hit home runs, but more of that stuff is necessary. What isn’t necessary you ask? Want a list? Kevin Gregg isn’t necessary. Mike Gonzalez isn’t necessary. Derrek Lee’s ridiculously weak efforts at the plate aren’t necessary. That list goes on. As O’sFan21 has noted, the Orioles roster contains more guys with a sub-.600 OPS than it does .800+. Yuck.
Justin Masterson will start Game 1 of the series for Cleveland. He appears to be emerging as a real starter this year after going back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation. Also off to a good start are Travis Hafner and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera has racked up 14 hits (4 for home runs) and a .946 OPS. Hafner is sporting a .285 BA and is OPSing near .800. Mitch Talbot and Josh Tomlin will also pitch for Cleveland.
Game 1 (Friday @ 7:05pm):
BAL – Zach Britton (2-0, 0.66 ERA)
CLE – Justin Masterson (2-0, 1.35 ERA)
Throws lots of fastballs and sliders. Uses both the two-seam and four-seam fastball and is getting much more movement this year than in the past. Similar velocity (low 90s) on both fastballs. Drops the slider into the low 80s. Keeps that slider down and away from righties (and down and in on lefties).
Another guy that Cesar Izturis has good numbers against. He’s 3 for 9 with a couple of RBIs. Luke Scott has torched Masterson for 6 hits (3 of them doubles) in 13 ABs. That’s a .462 BA and a 1.192 OPS. Nick Markakis is just 2 for 13 off of Masterson.
Game 2 (Saturday @ 1:05pm):
BAL – Jeremy Guthrie (1-1, 0.64 ERA)
CLE – Josh Tomlin (2-0, 2.63 ERA)
Throws a fastball (two-seam and four-seam), cutter (one that Pitch F/X recognizes), curveball, and a changeup. Nearly one-to-one K/BB ratio. Not a hard-thrower by any means. Fastballs top out in the upper 80s. Curveball and changeup get down in the mid 70s. Lineups he’s faced so far have been lefty-heavy and he’s stayed away almost exclusively, coming inside with only the curveball on a regular basis.
Brian Roberts is 3 for 3 with a home run against Tomlin who went 5 innings and gave up 3 runs on 10 hits in his only career start versus the Orioles. He took the loss in that game. Guthrie has mowed down his former teammates. With the exception of Travis Hafner (2-3), nobody in the Indians lineup has good numbers. Orlando Cabrera is 1-13, Asdrubal Cabrera is 0-6, and Shin-Soo Choo is 0-4.
Game 3 (Sunday @ 1:05pm)
BAL – Brad Bergesen (0-1, 3.18 ERA)
CLE – Mitch Talbot (1-0, 1.46 ERA)
Similar repertoire as Tomlin with a two-seam fastball, cutter, and changeup. Also throws a slider. Similar velocity as well, but fastballs can get into the low 90s. Sticks mostly to the two-seamer and uses it about 60 percent of the time. He’ll mix the cutter in from time to time (mostly to right-handed hitters). Generally throws the changeup to lefties and the slider to the righties.
Orioles have had limited ABs versus Talbot. Cesar Izturis, Adam Jones, and Brian Roberts have hits. Likewise, only three from the Indians lineup have hits (four total) off of Bergesen. Austin Kearns has two of those hits.