Despite the Orioles' five-game win streak and return to .500 ball, I just can't muster any confidence going into Oakland. The Athletics are in last place in the AL West, and though their pitching this year has been very good, their hitting is comparable to that of the Seattle Mariners, and we all saw what that was like.
While the Orioles have been lousy over the last thirteen years, the A's have had their ups and downs. None of that really seems to matter when the Orioles play the Athletics. When the A's are good, they beat the Orioles. When the A's are bad, they beat the Orioles. In the last five years, the Orioles have gone 10-25 against the A's. They suck against them at home (6-13) and they suck against them on the road (4-12). The Orioles have a lower winning percentage against the A's in that time frame than any other American League team. They lose more to the A's than they do the Red Sox or Yankees.
This weekend the Orioles face two lefties and two players making their second start of the season. They are fortunate to be missing Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, but even without facing those two the Orioles will have a rough go of things. On Friday they face tough lefty Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez is having a fantastic year, putting up an ERA of 2.20 and FIP of 3.22 in 57.1 innings. He strikes a lot of batters out, 8.8 per nine innings, but he'll also walk a few. In his nine starts this season he had pitched less than six innings only once and has given up more than two runs only twice. His opponent on the mound is Chris Tillman, who has pitched well of late but can't seem to get past five innings in a start. Tonight's game has the potential to be pretty ugly.
On Saturday, the O's face another lefty, Josh Outman. Outman saw limited action for the A's in 2008-2009, but missed all of 2010 with injury. He's made one start this season in which he pitched seven innings and gave up just five hits and one run to the Angels. It's tough to say what the Orioles will be facing in Outman, who will be opposing Brad Bergesen.
Guillermo Moscoso pitches on Sunday against Zach Britton. Moscoso was called up when Tyson Ross went on the disabled list, and in his only start this season he pitched six shutout innings against the Angels. His only other big league action was in the Texas Rangers' bullpen in 2009 and 2010.
I always hate when the Orioles go into Oakland. They keep me up late and they usually lose. I think they have little chance to win tonight, tomorrow will be a toss up, and that they should be favored to win on Sunday. The Orioles haven't won a series in Oakland since 2007, and doing so this weekend would be a boost to the team as they head into Seattle to face Doug Fister, Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda.