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Orioles-Rockies series preview: The O’s face an unfamiliar foe

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The Orioles kick off their interleague schedule with their first trip to Coors Field in 15 years.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Baltimore Orioles
I had to go back to 2016 to find a picture of the O’s playing the Rockies, but here’s Dylan Bundy giving up a homer.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Man, I sure am tired of the Orioles giving up so many home runs. Well, maybe they’ll have more luck in their next destination... (checks notes) ... COORS FIELD?? Aw, crap.

Yes, the O’s, already on pace to demolish all records for homer-allowing, now have to play three games in one of the most infamously homer-friendly ballparks in the majors. Welcome to Colorado.

The Orioles have played only one previous series in this ballpark, and it happened way back in 2004. No players from that series are still active in the major leagues. The Birds’ starters in that series were Sidney Ponson, Eric DuBose, and Daniel Cabrera. Ah, memories! The lineup included the Orioles’ middle-of-the-order trio of Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro, and Javy Lopez, and also random names like David Newhan and Tim Raines Jr.

Most recently, the two teams squared off at Camden Yards in 2016, with the Rockies taking two of three. Colorado leads the all-time series, eight wins to seven.

This year’s Rockies are a disappointment, sitting at 22-26 and nine games out of first place coming off two consecutive postseason appearances. Their 5.01 team ERA is the worst mark in the National League. But they do still have a powerful lineup led by Nolan Arenado (.316/.363/.938, 11 homers, 35 RBIs) and Charlie Blackmon (.300/.356/.565, 10 homers, 31 RBIs).

Oh, and since this is an interleague series in an NL park, we get to watch Orioles pitchers try to hit. Huzzah. What could be more exciting?

Game 1: Friday, 8:40 PM

LHP John Means (5-4, 2.68) vs. TBD

You have to feel good whenever Means, the Orioles’ best pitcher, takes the mound, though the fact that he’s left-handed won’t give him any particular edge. The Rockies’ splits against left-handers are very similar to those against righties, albeit in about half as many plate appearances. They’re batting .250/.306/.458 against southpaws compared to .252/.316/.431 versus right-handers.

Look for former Oriole Mark Reynolds to start at first base instead of the lefty-swinging Daniel Murphy. Means should be extra careful with Arenado, whose OPS against southpaws is a blistering 1.257, and Ian Desmond, whose .915 OPS vs. lefties is more than 250 points higher than vs. righties.

The Rockies, as of this writing, haven’t announced their starters for any of the three games. Thanks to ample off days, they’ve been using a four-man rotation since May 4: lefty Kyle Freeland and righties German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela, and Jon Gray. The former two should be able to pitch in this series on normal rest.

Freeland, the Rockies’ Opening Day starter, has struggled mightily, going 2-5 with a 6.02 ERA. It’s a steep dropoff from last year, when he was the Rockies’ best starter with a 17-7 mark and 2.85 ERA (fifth-best in the NL) in 33 starts. This year, the mantle of best Rockies starter has gone to Marquez (5-2, 3.38), who has struck out at least five batters in 10 of his 11 starts. He’s also had three outings of seven or more scoreless innings this year.

Game 2: Saturday, 9:10 PM

RHP Andrew Cashner (4-2, 4.14) vs. TBD

Cashner should have had a win in his last outing but for an Orioles bullpen collapse against the Yankees. He’s winless in May but has thrown three straight quality starts. A veteran of the National League, Cashner has faced the Rockies 15 times in his career, including nine times at Coors Field, where he’s 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA. Ouch. The last time he pitched there, in 2016, he made two starts and combined for only 5.1 innings, giving up seven runs. Murphy and Blackmon each have a career OPS over 1.500 against Cashner.

Game 3: Sunday, 3:10 PM

RHP David Hess (1-6, 6.75) vs. TBD

Could there be a more disastrous pairing of pitcher and ballpark than David Hess — who leads the majors with 17 home runs allowed — working at Coors Field? Hess has allowed at least two homers in five of his eight starts this year, and that pattern seems unlikely to change in this environment. This game, sadly, could turn into a massacre for the poor righty, who hasn’t thrown a quality outing since his first start of the year in Toronto.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Rockies?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    3 (Orioles will sweep!)
    (3 votes)
  • 11%
    2
    (11 votes)
  • 63%
    1
    (60 votes)
  • 21%
    0 (Orioles will get swept)
    (20 votes)
94 votes total Vote Now