Before last night, the Houston Astros had the longest active winning streak in MLB. Tonight and tomorrow afternoon, the Orioles will be looking to send them on the way to the longest active losing streak.
Prepare yourselves for Dallas Keuchel, tonight's Astros starter, who fits the profile that ought to fill you with dread, even in this strange time of the Orioles having one of the best offenses in the league. Namely, he is a soft-tossing left-handed pitcher. Fangraphs says that his fastball averages 89 miles per hour and he throws a bunch of off-speed stuff. That's even with more than half of his appearances being in relief this year, where you might expect more velocity.
Want to know what's even worse? He gets ground balls 59% of the time! That is extreme. On the other hand, when the ball ends up in the air, nearly one-fifth of fly balls have turned into home runs. Keuchel has a 5.17 ERA in the five starts he's made this year.
Looking at pitcher tendencies only tells you so much, though. Last night, Lucas Harrell entered the game leading MLB in walks issued. He did not walk an Orioles batter in the game.
It's a night for the junkballer types, with Freddy Garcia making his way into another start. Did you know that he led the Orioles rotation for ERA in May with a 3.57? How does something like that even happen? We live in strange times. Maybe Garcia is this year's Miguel Gonzalez.
Most of the Astros have never seen Garcia, and none of the Orioles have ever seen Keuchel. Well, maybe they saw them in the opposing dugouts last night, you never know. Still, it is a battle of the unknowns. One crafty old veteran hanging on for one last ride, one young-ish guy who maybe doesn't even have any business being on an MLB club. Garcia has 2219 career IP; Keuchel has 133. Baseball is a funny game sometimes.
Winning streak prior to this series aside, it's not for no reason that Houston has the worst record in the AL. The good, contending teams have been destroying them. Other teams have not. The O's are a contending team and they need to keep piling on a 1-7 record that Houston has mustered against the AL East. Beat the bad teams, hold your own against the good teams: that's the formula they need to follow. And that means you'd sure better be winning against the likes of Dallas Keuchel.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||HOUSTON ASTROS|
|Nick McLouth - LF||Brandon Barnes - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Jose Altuve - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Jason Castro - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||J.D. Martinez - LF|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Carlos Corporan - C|
|Matt Wieters - C||Carlos Pena - 1B|
|Danny Valencia - DH||Trevor Crowe - RF|
|Steve Pearce - RF||Matt Dominguez - 3B|
|Alexi Casilla - 2B||Marwin Gonzalez - SS|