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Series Preview: Orioles vs. Mariners, 1 - 3 August

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The Orioles fell just short of sweeping the Angels, but still picked up their third straight series win. They'll end the week with the Seattle Mariners for the second week in a row.

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Buck has to like that his team has won three straight series
Buck has to like that his team has won three straight series
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Friday, 1 August (7:05pm) - Wei-Yin Chen vs. Roenis Elias
2014 Stats Chen (11-3)
Elias (8-8)
IP 117.0 123.1
ERA 3.92 4.31
FIP 4.32 4.09
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .279/.311/.462 .245/.319/.395

Game notes: Chen tossed his best start of the season last week in Seattle.  He pitched 8 innings and allowed just 5 hits.  He has now won his last four starts and is one away from tying his MLB career high.  Wins might be a pointless statistic, but Chen has actually earned them, as he hasn't allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of the four starts.

A reason to watch: There was some concern about the strength of schedule to start the second half, but the Orioles have handled it magnificently.  They'll send out their most victorious pitcher to start the series and a chance to finish very strong against the AL West.

Scouting report: For the second week in a row, the O's will face Roenis Elias.  Here's the scouting report from last week's series preview:

Admittedly, I had no idea who Roenis Elias was 10 minutes ago, but apparently he's pitched almost 120 innings this season and has put up 1.1 WAR (yes, that's more than any pitcher on the Orioles).  He's not quite a soft-tossing lefty, but his fastball generally sits in the low 90s.  He uses a good mix between four and two-seam fastballs, also throwing a curveball and changeup.  Both secondary offerings have been good throughout his rookie campaign - Elias' curve sports a .403 OPS against.

Not much has changed since then, since his last start was also against the Orioles.  He allowed 4 hits and 1 ER during that start, but did not factor into the decision.  Today is also his 26th birthday.

Saturday, 2 August (7:05pm) - Miguel Gonzalez vs. James Paxton
2014 Stats Gonzalez (5-5)
Paxton (2-0)
IP 102.2 12.0
ERA 3.77 2.25
FIP 5.14 3.63
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .271/.343/.460 .146/.186/.341

Game notes: Gonzalez survived some trade talks (including inclusion in a swap for Boston's Jon Lester) and gets the ball for game two. He's giving up hits like its Christmas and issues over 3 walks per 9 innings, but hasn't allowed more than 3 ER since mid June.  Gonzalez has achieved quality starts in his last four appearances, including back-to-back 8 inning performances.

A reason to watch: It's clear Toronto isn't going to disappear quietly.  They've won 6 straight and are 9-1 over their last 10 games, leaving them just a game out of first place.  Will the decision not to acquire another starting pitcher or an upgrade at 2B affect the Orioles post-season chances?

Scouting report: James Paxton will make just his 3rd start of the season and first since March.  He was victorious in both starts, which came against the Los Angeles Angels.  He's mostly a two pitch (fastball, curveball) guy and can get the velocity up to the high 90s at times.  Paxton didn't boast eye-popping numbers at AAA Tacoma, but he's 5-0 over two separate MLB stints.

Sunday, 3 August (1:35pm) - Chris Tillman vs. Hisashi Iwakuma
2014 Stats Tillman (7-5)
Iwakuma (9-5)
IP 136.0 117.2
ERA 3.97 3.06
FIP 4.40 3.09
AVG/OBP/SLG Against .248/.318/.393 .243/.258/.358

Game notes: Tillman will make his first and only start of the season against his former team.  When he's not making errors in the field, he, like Chen and Gonzalez, has performed well over his most recent starts.

A reason to watch: By winning percentage, only the Detroit Tigers have been better than the Seattle Mariners on the road this season.

Scouting report: The Orioles also faced Iwakuma in the previous Seattle series.  Here's the report from the last series preview:

Iwakuma recorded 220 innings a year ago with 4.1 WAR.  Although he's got a slightly higher ERA this go around, he's on track for a career low FIP, which currently sits at 3.15.  Doesn't issue many walks and allows fewer than one homer per 9 innings (Safeco might help with that).  Relies on movement over velocity - his pitches rarely top 90 MPH, but he uses a sinker/splitter/slider combo effectively.

Iwakuma made one start in between (against the Cleveland Indians) and tossed a fairly dominant 7 innings.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Jump in now. Here's the FanDuel link.