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Series Preview: Orioles @ Royals

Baltimore Orioles (23-14, T-1st AL East) @ Kansas City Royals (15-20, 4th AL Central)

After a rather grueling homestand against some of the American League’s better teams, the O’s hit the road for five games. They’ll start with two games in Kansas City. The Royals are currently 15-20 (winners of 4 straight and 7-3 in their last 10), but they sport the MLB’s worst home record at 4-13. Can the Orioles end the winning streak and extend their home woes?

The O’s survived Monday’s poor showing (both defensively and from the pitching) and recovered to deal CC Sabathia his first loss of the season. The victory ensured the Orioles kept a least a share of the AL East for yet another day. They also did it free of any known cases of Icy Hot abuse. Sweet deal! Meanwhile, Kansas City has won three straight series (Boston, Chicago, and Texas) with some solid offensive performances. It’ll be up to Hunter and Matusz (plus the bullpen) to quell the uprising.

Tonight’s game will be at 8:10pm (we’re in Central time now!). It’ll boast a pitching matchup of Felipe Paulino and Tommy Hunter. Tomorrow’s game will be at 2:10pm. Probably starters are Luke Hochevar and Brian Matusz.

Game 1 (Wednesday @ 8:10pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Tommy Hunter (RHP, 2-2, 5.14 ERA)

KC – Felipe Paulino (RHP, 1-1, 3.09 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Tends to strike out a bunch, but with limited control. However, he’s currently posting his best strikeout and walk numbers this year. Possible that this is the result of increased use of the two-seam fastball he added last season. Also throws a slider, changeup, and curveball. Good velocity – getting up around 95 on his four-seamer. Saves the changeup mostly for right-handed hitters. Lefties tend to hit him better. As an example, in 70 fewer ABs, lefties have managed nine more homers.

Key Stats:

The current Oriole lineup is 7 for 16 against Paulino. Nick Johnson and Bill Hall have home runs. J.J. Hardy is 3 for 5, but does not have an extra base hit. Current Royals lineup is 6 for 17 against Hunter. Yuniesky Betancourt has a homer.

Game 2 (Thursday @ 2:10pm):

Probable Pitchers:

BAL – Brian Matusz (LHP, 2-4, 5.50 ERA)

KC – Luke Hochevar (RHP, 3-3, 7.20 ERA)

Scouting Report:

Combines a sinker and cutter with a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. Not making much use of the cutter this season, however. Using the slider and sinker much more in its place. Low-90s fastball and takes anywhere from 5-7MPH off when throwing the changeup.

Key Stats:

The Orioles have not fared well against Hochevar even though he regularly posts ERAs up near 5.00. They are just 19 for 96 against the Royals righty. J.J. Hardy is 1 for 13 with 3Ks. Luckily, Mark Reynolds is out. He’s 1 for 11 with 5Ks against Hochevar. Nick Markakis is 4 for 16, but does have a home run. Adam Jones is the only Oriole with any kind of decent average at 6 for 15 (.400) with 3 doubles. Only four current Royals have faced Matusz. Two of them (Billy Butler, Jeff Francoeur) have hits. Billy Butler’s went for two bases and Francoeur’s left the yard.