Yes, they’re still below .500. Yes, they’re only in fourth place in the American League East. But nevertheless, it’s starting to feel fun to be an Orioles fan again.
Baltimore is coming off of a series win against St. Louis. The Orioles have won or tied their last four series, and won four of their last five and eight of their last 12 games. The offense, anemic to start the season, has shown life. The pitching staff, which got off to a good start, has kept it going.
So things are good. There’s a pep in the step. There’s a feeling for the first time in a while that things might just be going in the right direction here.
And with that new feeling comes a new sense of expectation. Because with this series coming up, the Orioles should be able to take care of business again.
A trip to visit the Tigers is up next, and while the Orioles have struggled on the road (until this past series), Detroit is not a formidable opponent this year. Baltimore has had trouble over the course of the year scoring runs, ranking fifth-worst in MLB with 111.
Well, Detroit has scored 88, the lowest total in baseball, so that provides a sense for how tough a time the Tigers have had at the plate.
Detroit has lost nine of its last 10, and that offense, which has also hit a sport-low 12 home runs, is a big reason why. It’s tough to find a standout, even though there are some players who have had success. Austin Meadows is one of their leaders with a .270 average and .715 OPS, but hasn’t homered yet and has only 11 RBI in 27 games. Javier Baez, an NL MVP runner-up in 2018 who had 31 home runs last year, is hitting .222 with a .608 OPS. Spencer Torkelson, the 2020 first overall pick, generated excitement by starting the season with the big club, but he’s hitting .146 with a .535 OPS.
It hasn’t been good. But this is Camden Chat, not Comerica Chat, so let’s hope the Orioles can take advantage of this matchup of the rolling versus the reeling.
Game 1: Friday, May 13th, 7:10 p.m., MASN 2
Jordan Lyles (2-2, 4.05 ERA) vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (0-2, 4.50)
Lyles has been pretty solid for the Orioles. Take away one bad outing against the Yankees, and he’s got a 2.83 ERA across five starts. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his six outings for the season, and just as importantly, he’s been able to eat innings. He pitched six innings against the Red Sox two starts ago, and then against the Royals went 7.1 and should have gotten the win.
Rodriguez, an Orioles prospect long ago, has steadied himself as well with quality starts in three of his last four outings. His last start was his best yet, as he allowed one run in 6.2 innings while striking out eight against the Astros.
Game 2: Saturday, May 14th, 4:10 p.m., MASN 2
Bruce Zimmermann (2-1, 2.67) vs. Michael Pineda (1-2, 3.43)
Cy Bruce has been able to keep up his excellent impression of 2019 John Means. After looking in a shaky outing against the Yankees like he was regressing to the mean, Zimmermann came right back with solid starts against the Twins (five innings, two runs) and Royals (six innings, two runs) to pick the feel-good narrative back up.
Pineda has pitched four times this season, and for the most part has looked decent. He didn’t go more than five innings his first three starts, but went 6.2 while allowing two runs and striking out four in his last outing, a 2-0 loss to Oakland. Don’t know if it’s been mentioned already, but the Tigers struggle at the plate.
Game 3: Sunday, May 15th, 1:40 p.m., MASN 2
Tyler Wells (1-2, 3.75) vs. Tarik Skubal (2-2, 2.94)
The 27-year-old Wells has helped fill the void left by Means’s need for Tommy John surgery. Since giving up four runs in 1.2 innings against the Rays in his first start, Wells has a 2.42 ERA over his last five. Manager Brandon Hyde has started to give him a longer leash as well; after not pitching more than four innings in the first three starts, he’s gone five, five and six over his last three.
Skubal had two hiccups against the White Sox and Twins, but otherwise has been terrific for the Tigers. He has allowed three earned runs over his four other starts, and has struck out 34 batters in 33.2 innings. If he’s on in this one, the O’s could have a tough time at the plate.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Tigers?
0 (The Orioles will be swept)
3 (The Orioles will sweep)