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Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles @ Houston Astros, 4-6 June 2013

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Coming off of a great 4-1 mini-homestand, the O's depart on a six-game road trip against the Astros and Rays.

J.J. Hardy: .286 OBP, still on a 3-to-4-win pace.
J.J. Hardy: .286 OBP, still on a 3-to-4-win pace.
Mitchell Layton

This is one of those series that feels like a must-win, and should-really-sweep, even though it's only early June. Let's not be arrogant Orioles fans, though: the Astros have just won four-game series against the Rockies and Angels, sweeping the latter as I wrap up this post.

Tuesday, 4 June: Chris Tillman vs. Lucas Harrell
Career Numbers Tillman vs. Astros Harrell vs. O's
IP - -
ERA - -
FIP - -
Slash Line (Past Teams) - -
Slash Line (Current Players) .125/.364/.250 -

Chris Tillman has seen Carlos Pena ten times and Trevor Crowe once. Lucas Harrell has never faced an Oriole. This is another of those series for which matchup data is very sparse, I'm afraid. So, who are you going to bet on: the guy giving up two homers per nine innings, or the guy giving up five walks per nine innings?

Wednesday, 5 June: Freddy Garcia vs. Dallas Keuchel
Career Numbers Garcia vs. Astros Keuchel vs. O's
IP 8.0 -
ERA 3.38 -
FIP 1.97 -
Slash Line (Past Teams) .226/.294/.323 -
Slash Line (Current Players) .140/.218/.200 -

Even Freddy Garcia's only faced the Astros once! Of note is that Carlos Pena has 47 PAs against him, with a .116/.191/.186 line. Keuchel is a rather strange pitcher: he's a lefty groundball specialist - getting 59% grounders this year, which is very impressive - yet 18.9% of the fly balls he allows go for home runs. That's something like double the league-average rate for pitchers. Either he's just due for some serious regression, which we'd like to wait one more start, or all the O's need to do is get the ball in the air.

Thursday, 6 June: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Bud Norris
Career Numbers Gonzalez vs. Astros Norris vs. O's
IP - -
ERA - -
FIP - -
Slash Line (Past Teams) - -
Slash Line (Current Players) .333/.500/.333 .154/.214/.154

Once again, Carlos Pena is the only Astro the Oriole pitcher has seen; Gonzalez faced him eight times last year. Bud Norris has seen Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, and Chris Snyder a handful of times each (14 PA total). Norris is a decent back-of-rotation type, but he's having a strange year; he's posting a career-best ERA (3.39) with a career-worst strikeout rate (5.74 per 9 IP, versus his career rate of 8.49). That's mostly because he's doing the reverse of his teammate Dallas Keuchel, being a flyball pitcher (40.7% grounders) but posting a 5.9% HR/FB. Speaking of HR/FB, Chris Davis is hitting 31.3% of his flies out of the park...

All infielders need the same basic skills: good hands, good eye-hand coordination, agility, and quickness of feet and hands. ... He has to remember what base to cover in a particular bunt situation, where to go if the runner is stealing or if the ball is hit to the outfield. Of course, a player receives plenty of help and instruction from the manager, and each manager has his own method of handling each game situation. But the point I want to make is that the infielder must know where he is to go on every single play, and he has to know it without even thinking about it. - Earl Weaver