After losing two of three in Cleveland and continuing their struggles with the AL Central, the Orioles seemed destined for a late season bout with sluggishness. But they are a better team than we give them credit for at times. The pitching has been good enough, the defense extraordinary and the offense comes up big when it needs to. A win tonight makes it a sweep and four W's in a row.
RHP Hector Noesi, Chicago
2014 stats: 26 G, 7-8, 4.84 ERA, 126.1 IP, 134 H, 18 HR, 47 BB, 92 SO, .272 BA, 1.43 WHIP
Last start (vs. Toronto): 5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 4 SO, 5 ER, W
Career against Baltimore: 8 G, 3 GS, 1-3, 5.40 ERA, 21.2 IP, 31 H, 9 BB, 17 SO
Noesi has played for three clubs this year. He began things in the Mariners bullpen and then moved to Texas two weeks into the season. Two weeks after that he found himself in a White Sox uniform and that is where has been since the end of April.
The only time he has seen the Orioles this season was a 5-4 Baltimore victory at Camden Yards on June 24. That day he went seven innings and the Orioles managed to hit him around a bit. They got nine hits and only struck out twice be could only scratch across two runs. It was the ever-struggling White Sox bullpen that blew it that day, allowing three hits, two walks and three runs over the final four innings of the game.
According to Fangraphs, the White Sox right hander features four pitches. His number one is the fastball; thrown 51.9 percent of the time at an average velocity of 92.9 mph. His second most used pitch is his changeup, which has seen a big spike in usage up to 25.5 percent of his offerings, averaging 87 mph. The tertiary option is the slider; 14 percent of his pitches at 88.1 mph and finally there is the "show me" curveball, making up 8.6 percent of his tosses at 80.1 mph.
Noesi is a high walk pitcher, averaging over three per nine innings. The Orioles made Chris Sale work earlier in the series. If they can do the same tonight and get into the weak Chicago bullpen it will be one happy bus ride across town.
LHP Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore
2014 stats: 23 G, 12-4, 3.76 ERA, 136.1 IP, 145 H, 20 HR, 24 BB, 102 SO, .272 BA, 1.24 WHIP
Last start (@ Cleveland): 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 ER, ND
Career against White Sox: 4 G, 1-0, 3.13 ERA, 23.0 IP, 22 H, 5 BB, 23 SO
Chen looked really good his last time out. Unfortunately, Corey Kluber was even better and then Brain Matusz allowed the walk off home run in the bottom of the eleventh for an Orioles loss. That said, when the Orioles lefty strikes out six batters, that means he was feeling it.
But the same thing was his kryptonite once again. His one major mistake was the home run to Zach Walters. Without that, he very well may have taken home his thirteenth victory of the season.
The one time Chen saw the White Sox in 2014 was back on June 23. He was saddled with a no decision after only making it 5.2 innings. He allowed three runs on six hits, including a home run, and two walks. Despite this, the Chicago bullpen imploded and the O's won 6-4.
This feels like a sweep kind of night. Chen has not won in his last two starts. In 2014, that has happenedthree other times. On two occasions he won the third start. Sounds good to me.
Baltimore Orioles (w/ career stats against Noesi)
|RF Nick Markakis (L)||3-for-6, .500 BA, 1 BB|
|1B Steve Pearce (R)||0-for-3, .000 BA|
|CF Adam Jones (R)||3-for-7, .429 BA, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 SO|
|LF Nelson Cruz (R)||2-for-8, .250 BA, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO|
|DH Delmon Young (R)||0-for-1, .000 BA, 1 SO|
|SS J.J. Hardy (R)||3-for-11, .273 BA, 1 2B, 1 BB, 4 SO|
|3B Chris Davis (L)||2-for-10, .200 BA, 2 SO|
|2B Jonathan Schoop (R)||none|
|C Nick Hundley (R)||2-for-5, .400 BA|
On the bench: Caleb Joseph (never faced Noesi), Ryan Flaherty (0-for-3 with a strikeout), Cord Phelps (none), David Lough (none)
On the DL: Manny Machado (2-for-4) and Matt Wieters (3-for-7)
It is the same lineup as last night with Young and Cruz flip-flopping positions. It's not clear what manager Buck Showalter is doing in deciding his lineup. Schoop has not exactly been "hot" yet he plays against a right hander. Hundley had the home run last night and has a good history against Noesi but Joseph is the superior defensive catcher, something Buck values. They won last night like this, why not do it again?
Chicago White Sox (w/ career stats against Chen)
|SS Alexei Ramirez (R)||3-for-10, .300 BA, 2 2B, 1 SO|
|CF Alejandro De Aza (L)||0-for-2, .000 BA, 1 BB|
|DH Jose Abreu (R)||1-for-3, .333 BA, 1 HR|
|RF Avisail Garcia (R)||0-for-3, .000 BA, 2 SO|
|LF Dayan Viciedo (R)||3-for-8, .375, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO|
|1B Paul Konerko (R)||3-for-10, .300 BA, 1 2B, 2 BB|
|3B Conor Gillaspie (L)||1-for-3, .333 BA ,1 2B,|
|C Adrian Nieto (S)||none|
|2B Leury Garcia (S)||1-for-3, .333 BA, 1 SO|
On the bench: Tyler Flowers (0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Chen), Gordon Beckham (2-for-9, with a double, walk and strikeout), Adam Dunn (0-for-6 with three strikeouts), Jordan Danks (never faced)
Abreu is scary sitting there at number three. Chen struggles with the long ball and if they get a few guys on in front of their big swinging rookie, this could be a tough night. But it is likely that the Oriole offense backs him up. They normally do.
- When the O's head to face the Cubs they will play against at least two former Orioles. Jake Arrieta is slated to start on Friday while Tsyoshi Wada will toss on Sunday. Pedro Strop will be in the bullpen waiting for the call.
- This is the earliest the Orioles have been 20 games over .500 since May 30, 1997.
- In 10 of the last 11 seasons in which the Orioles were 20 games over .500 by August 19, they won at least 97 games.
- The Orioles could sweep the White Sox in the Windy City for the first time since July of 1995.
- If the O's can maintain their 3.61 ERA it would be their lowest since 1979 when the squad had an ERA of just 3.26.