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Orioles-Tigers series preview: O’s head home after a frustrating time in the Rockies

Baltimore takes on another struggling team in Detroit after letting a series win in Colorado slip away.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles were arguably the better team in their series with the Rockies this past weekend. They led in the seventh inning or later in all three games, had the lead in the ninth in two of them...and yet took only one game.

Such is life for the Birds this season.

Want a silver lining? The team coming to Camden Yards isn’t doing a ton better. The Detroit Tigers are 19-31, in fourth place in the AL Central, and in the midst of their own patience-testing rebuild. The year got off to a decent start, but the Tigers have hit the skids recently, dropping 10 of their last 11 games.

The Tigers are struggling at the plate, with their .226 average ranking 25th in the majors and their team OPS ranking 27th. Their 171 runs are second-fewest in the big leagues, as are their 40 home runs. Their top home run hitter has been Ronny Rodriguez, with six, and perhaps their best overall hitter, Nick Castellanos, is hitting only .264 with four home runs and 15 RBI. They haven’t pitched much better; their 4.95 team ERA is 24th in baseball.

So what happens when teams that are a combined 35-68 meet up? Not a lot of intrigue. But hopefully there’s an opportunity for a series win, starting with a matinee on Memorial - Memoriole? - Day.

Game 1 - Monday, 1:05 p.m.

Starting pitchers

  • Daniel Norris: 7 GS, 46 IP, 4.30 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 1.370 WHIP, 33 SO, 11 BB
  • Gabriel Ynoa: 0 GS, 17.2 IP, 5.60 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.585 WHIP, 18 SO, 6 BB

Ynoa will make his first start and look to get his season back on track. Since pitching three scoreless, one-hit innings of relief against Boston on May 7, Ynoa has allowed 10 earned runs in 6.1 innings over four appearances. Ynoa has made only seven career starts and none since 2017, but with Dan Straily getting the call to the bullpen, a contingency plan had to be put into effect.

Norris has had a lukewarm season for the Tigers, but he’s pitched better of late. Excluding a bad outing on May 17, he’s pitched to a 3.36 ERA over six starts since May 7. Batters are hitting .287 against him this season, however, and with only 33 strikeouts in 46 innings, he hasn’t been overpowering. An Orioles offense that seemed to heat up in the thin Colorado air shouldn’t have trouble putting the ball in play.

Game 2 - Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.

Starting pitchers

  • Matthew Boyd: 11 GS, 66.2 IP, 3.11 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 1.005 WHIP, 80 SO, 14 BB
  • Dylan Bundy: 10 GS, 52 IP, 4.67 ERA, 5.54 FIP, 1.269 WHIP, 52 SO, 21 BB

The Orioles won’t have the starting pitching advantage in this one. Boyd has been terrific for the Tigers this season. He’s third in the AL in WHIP, fourth in strikeouts, eighth in strikeouts per nine innings, and has been a top-10 pitcher in the league by nearly every standard. He had a shaky two starts on May 13 and 18, allowing seven earned runs in 10.1 innings, but then bounced back to twirl six shutout innings against the Marlins his next time out.

For Bundy, it has been still too many walks, too many hits and too many home runs, but his last four starts have been more along the lines of what the Orioles are hoping to see from him. He’s got a 2.28 ERA in that stretch, which includes two scoreless outings, and opposing hitters are batting .176 against him. He’s also been able to keep the ball in the yard, allowing three homers over those four starts after giving up nine in his first six.

Game 3 - Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.

Starting pitchers

  • TBD
  • John Means: 8 GS, 48.2 IP, 2.96 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.171 WHIP, 38 SO, 15 BB

The Tigers haven’t named a starter for the series finale, since Gregory Soto, who last pitched after Boyd, was sent down to the minors Sunday. Given that the next option would be Ryan Carpenter, who pitched Saturday and would be going on three days’ rest, Detroit will likely go with either a bullpen arm or a call-up from the minors.

And speaking of Boyd, the Orioles will start their breakthrough hurler in Means, who is coming off of his first no-decision after decisions in each of his first seven starts. Against the Rockies, he allowed three runs in five innings for the second straight start, and it’s fair to wonder if the league is starting to figure out the left-hander.

At the same time, his two starts before that were excellent, and he’ll get a favorable matchup this time. Cleveland and Colorado, his last two opponents, feature good lineups or good hitting environments, and the Tigers are one of the lightest-hitting teams in the league. This is an opportunity for Means to provide further evidence as to the kind of pitcher he’ll be going forward.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win against the Tigers this series?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    0 (The Orioles get swept)
    (6 votes)
  • 23%
    1
    (14 votes)
  • 50%
    2
    (30 votes)
  • 15%
    3 (The Orioles sweep the Tigers)
    (9 votes)
59 votes total Vote Now