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Orioles-Athletics series preview: Back home to face the worst team in the AL

The Orioles play three games against the worst team in the American League and they must take advantage.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles
Do you think Dean Kremer feels threatened by Gunnar Henderson’s hair?
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The only thing you really need to know about this weekend’s series between the Athletics and the Orioles is that the Orioles really need to win most, if not all, of these games. To come off of a 4-2 road trip against the Astros and Guardians just to lose to the A’s would be the absolute worst.

In the midst of this tough schedule, with the Orioles fighting to get back into wild card position, the hope is that the A’s will offer some relief. They currently sit in last place in the AL West, having already racked up 82 losses. They have the worst record in the American League and in the NL their only rivals to their .374 winning percentage are the Pirates and Nationals.

This is a team the Orioles should be handily, which, to me at least, makes this series even scarier than the series against good teams. The pressure is fully on the Orioles to take these games. There is zero pressure on the A’s. To get knocked further out of the wild card race while playing the Astros is one thing, but to lose two out of three to these jabronis would be mortifying.

After this series, the Toronto Blue Jays come to town for four games in three days. And while the O’s are battling the A’s in Baltimore, the Blue Jays will be facing off with a similarly bad Pirates in Pittsburgh. It’s unlikely that the Orioles will get any help from the Pirates, so to lose this series to the A’s ahead of seeing the Blue Jays could be devastating.

The clock is winding down on the 2022 season and the Orioles have no room for error. They currently sit 1.5 games back of the Jays for the final postseason spot (two games in the loss column) and losing to the A’s could put them several more game back in a hurry. They need to be in a position to tie or pass the Blue Jays next week.

This is the second series these teams have played this season. In the first, the Orioles lost three out of four. That was pretty embarrassing even when it happened, but it was also a full month before Adley Rutschman debuted. At the end of that series their record was 4-9. It was a bizarre early season west coast road trip and long before anyone imagined the Orioles could be good.

Some Orioles featured in that first series were Kelvin Gutierrez, Anthony Bemboom, Chris Owings, Travis Lakins, Paul Fry, and Chris Ellis. I have a hard time remembering most of those players. This is a different team in many ways now.

If you’re wondering what players you know on the A’s, the answer could very possibly be none. They traded a number of the players you’d recognize, like Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Sean Manaea, and Chris Bassitt, in spring. Then they got rid of some more players, the biggest name being Frankie Montas, at the trade deadline.

The A’s are averaging 3.39 runs per game this year, better than only the Tigers in the AL. Their team OBP is worst in the AL at .280. We have watched the Orioles struggle to score runs of late, but they are actually exactly league average a 4.21 runs/game. On pitching, the A’s allow 4.53 runs per game, better than only the Royals and Red Sox (LOL).

That’s not even to mention that this will be Gunnar Henderson’s first series in Baltimore. The A’s aren’t usually a big attendance draw but between the arrival of Gunnar, the overall great play by the Orioles, and the soccer jersey giveaway on Saturday, hopefully the Yard will be rocking.

I can’t reiterate this enough: This is a team the Orioles need to beat.

Game 1: Friday, Sept 2nd, 7:05

Dean Kremer, RHP (6-2, 3.24 ERA) vs JP Sears, LHP (5-1, 2.28 ERA)

Sears may be an Athletic whose name you recognize. He’s a rookie who has already pitched twice against the Orioles this year when he was with the Yankees. On April 16th, Sears pitched a scoreless inning in Baltimore, and on May 25th he pitched five scoreless. He was traded to the A’s as part of the package that brought Frankie Montas to New York.

This could be a tough one for the Orioles. In four starts with the A’s, Sears has been quite good. He hasn’t yet pitched deep into a game, though, and the Orioles have proven themselves capable of running up a starter’s pitch count.

As for Kremer, he just needs to keep going in September what he had going in August. He pitched to a 2.25 ERA over five August starts, and that’s including when he gave up four runs in 5.2 innings to Boston. He has been just dominant and he should be able to handle this A’s team.

Game 2: Saturday, Sept 3rd, 7:05

Austin Voth, RHP (4-2, 4.48 ERA) vs TBD

The Austin Voth revival tour continues this weekend. Voth wasn’t quite as good as Kremer in August; in five starts his ERA was 2.57. I want very much to trust in Voth and every start he gets me a little closer, but I’m still having trouble flipping that switch. His Orioles’ ERA is just 2.72 for the entire year, but he was just so bad before that. For like, awhile.

As Fox Mulder says, I want to believe.

Game 3: Sunday, Sept 4th, 1:35

Spenser Watkins, RHP (4-5 4.26 ERA) vs TBD

There is a whole lot of TBD in this series!

Since returning from the injured list on June 25th, Watkins has dropped his ERA from 6.00 to 4.26. He has looked like a different pitcher. His August wasn’t quite as sparkling as the other to starters in this series, and he’s coming off of a real clunker against the Guardians. But he has earned the chance to stay in this roster, something that I sure didn’t see coming at the start of the season.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win this weekend against the Athletics?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    3 (SWEEEEEP!)
    (235 votes)
  • 45%
    2
    (213 votes)
  • 3%
    1
    (17 votes)
  • 1%
    0 (swept)
    (6 votes)
471 votes total Vote Now