It is just under 90 degrees today in Arlington. The Oriole bats are equally hot and face a struggling pitcher that they have smacked around in the past. Let's travel back to May of 2012. Ryan Flaherty led off a game--I know, Flaherty at the top of the order is mind boggling--against tonight's starter and parked a ball onto the flag court in right field of Camden Yards for his first Major League home run. J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis would follow suit to make the Orioles the first American League team ever to begin the game with three straight home runs. More of the same would be appreciated tonight.
RHP Colby Lewis, Texas
2014 stats: 9 G, 4-4, 5.44 ERA, 48.0 IP, 5 HR, 17 BB, 42 SO, .340 BAA, 1.77 WHIP
Last start (@ Washington): 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 5 SO, L
Pitch Selection in 2014 (Fangraphs)
Most ways you slice it, Lewis has been bad in 2014. Check out these splits. Lefties are hitting .345 against him, righties; .318. At home his ERA is a beefy 7.52. Getting out of Arlington has been his saving grace. When he is away from home his ERA drops to 3.90.
However, things may get better for the right-hander. His FIP is only 3.98. That is a major jump from that big ERA. Part of the reason behind that is his inflated batting average against on balls in play. It is sitting at .401 right now. His career average is closer to the norm, at .303.
Lewis is better than his numbers have let on, but this is still a pitcher that this hot Oriole lineup should put on a show against. Lewis' numbers vs. the O's: seven apperances, 1-4 with a 5.97 ERA
RHP Chris Tillman, Baltimore
2014 stats: 12 G, 5-2, 4.63 ERA, 70.0 IP, 9 HR, 29 BB, 54 SO, .250 BAA, 1.40 WHIP
Last start (@ Houston): 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 SO, W
Tillman regained his form last time out, but it was against the Astros. He needs to continue to cut down on the walks and increase his strikeout numbers. His FIP (4.56), xFIP (4.57), and ERA (4.63) are all pretty much in line, so he deserves to be where he is. That is with a .280 batting average against on balls in play, below his career number of .296.
According to Fangraphs, he has lost some zip on his pitches. The fastball is averaging just 90.5 mph, a different of more than 1 mph from his 91.6 mph fastball in 2013. The change continues across the board with his other pitches. Thus far, the Texas heat has warmed up the Oriole bats. Perhaps, it can do the same to Tilly's arm.
Orioles (w/ career stats against Lewis)
|RF Nick Markakis (L)||2-for-13, .154 BA, 2 HR, 4 SO|
|3B Manny Machado (R)||none|
|DH Nelson Cruz (R)||1-for-2, .500 BA, 1 3B, 1 SO|
|CF Adam Jones (R)||3-for-12, .250 BA, 1 HR, 1 SO|
|1B Chris Davis (L)||0-for-2, .000 BA, 2 SO|
|SS J.J. Hardy (R)||4-for-12, .333 BA, 1 2B, 2 HR|
|2B Jonathan Schoop (R)||none|
|LF David Lough (L)||none|
|C Caleb Joseph (R)||none|
Half the lineup has never seen Lewis before. It is a bit surprising that Delmon Young didn't get the start today. Showalter likes to go with track records and Young certainly has that against Lewis (4-for-13, .308 BA). Joseph is behind the plate again. It would appear that he has become the primary backstop for the time being. Why not? He has gotten a hit in three straight games, but, more importantly, he has looked very comfortable behind home plate.
Rangers (w/ career stats against Tillman)
|LF Shin-Soo Choo (L)||1-for-7, .143 BA, 1 HR, 3 SO|
|SS Elvis Andrus (R)||3-for-9, .333 BA, 3 BB, 1 SO|
|1B Mitch Moreland (L)||1-for-6, .167 BA, 2 SO|
|3B Adrian Beltre (R)||3-for-8, .375 BA, 1 2B, 1 HR|
|DH Alex Rios (R)||1-for-9, .111 BA, 1 HR, 1 BB, 3 SO|
|C Chris Gimenez (R)||1-for-4, .250 BA, 1 SO|
|CF Leonys Martin (L)||0-for-3, .000 BA, 1 SO|
|RF Michael Choice (R)||none|
|2B Rougned Odor (L)||none|
Andrus is back in the starting lineup tonight after getting half the night off on Wednesday. His replacement, Luis Sardinas, managed three hits but made two costly errors in the field. As we can see from the numbers above, Beltre is the guy to NOT mess with...again. You reading this Tillman? There is no real reason to give him anything to hit.
- In case you missed it, it looks like Miguel Gonzalez will hit the disabled list. His spot is likely to be taken by Kevin Gausman for the time being. Goose will likely start Saturday versus Oakland.
- Matt Wieters played catch with John Russell today. Things are slow, but positive.
- Tommy Hunter threw a simulted game today against David Lough, Ryan Flaherty, Wayne Kirby, Bobby Dickerson and Einar Diaz. That isn't exactly Murderer's Row up there but apparently it went well.
- Johan Santana is going to toss 75 pitches or five innings in Sarasota and then head to Norfolk to start a rehab assignment.
- Henry Urrutia will begin jogging Friday. The first time since having sports hernia surgery.
- The Orioles are 22-8 when scoring four runs or more, 8-19 when scoring less than four.
- Last night was the O's fith straight win in Arlington in the regular season. The last time that was done was in 1984.
- Markakis' home run last night was his first away from Camden Yards since May 23, 2013 against the Blue Jays.
- Today would have been Monica Barlow's 37th birthday. She was the Orioles public relations director who passed away in February after a battle with lung cancer. As a sign of respect, various Orioles have been wearing a shirt with a backwards K over the word "cancer" around the clubhouse. They can be purchased at 108stitches.com and part of the proceeds benefit charities like LUNGevity, which Monica was a part of.
*Notes come from the Orioles beat reporters: Roch Kubatko, Britt Ghiroli, Steve Melewski, Rich Dubroff, Eduardo Encina and Dan Connolly, as well as Orioles Publice Relations.