The Orioles, you guys! They’ve won five consecutive series. They’ve got the second-best record in the American League. And they just followed up a 4-1 road trip with a 5-1 homestand, capped off with a rubber-game victory over the Red Sox yesterday. Life is good in Birdland.
Unfortunately it’ll be a minute before the home fans get to enjoy those positive vibes in person again. Tonight the Orioles begin their longest road trip of the season, a 10-game, three-city tour that won’t wrap up until May 7. First stop: the Motor City.
It’s only April and the Orioles and Tigers are already finishing up their season series in a scheduling oddity. All of this before the O’s have played a single game against eight other AL teams, including the division rival Rays and Blue Jays. So if you belong to that very specific subset of fan who watches only Orioles vs. Tigers games and nothing else, you can call it quits on the 2023 baseball season after this weekend and go enjoy some other hobbies.
After sweeping Detroit at Camden Yards last weekend, the Orioles need just one win in this four-game set to secure the season series victory over the Tigers...but of course, winning just one game would be a huge disappointment. The O’s need to bank as many wins as they can against sub-.500 teams before their schedule starts getting tough again— which it will by the time this road trip ends in Atlanta.
Game 1: Thursday, 6:40 PM, MASN 2
RHP Kyle Gibson (4-0, 3.60) vs. LHP Joey Wentz (0-3, 7.56)
Game 2: Friday, 6:40 PM, MASN 2
RHP Grayson Rodriguez (0-0, 5.12) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2, 2.32)
If these first two pitching matchups look familiar, it’s because they’re identical to those from last weekend. The first of the two turned out very much in favor of the Orioles, as Gibson tossed 6.1 brilliant innings with a career-high 11 strikeouts to defeat Wentz, who lasted just four frames and coughed up five runs. Gibson will be going for his fifth win, which would tie the Twins’ Joe Ryan for the major league lead. Not that pitcher wins mean much, but still, that’d be a nice feather in his cap.
The Tigers had the upper hand in the latter matchup — despite the O’s ultimately winning the game — thanks to the elder Rodriguez retiring 21 of the 22 Orioles he faced and taking a perfect game into the seventh. The sizzling E-Rod is carrying a 17-inning scoreless streak into this game. Grayson, in last Sunday’s Battle of the Rodriguezes, managed to gut through five scoreless innings but put a ton of traffic on the basepaths. This is the first time that he’s facing an opponent a second time. (That’s an awkward sentence, but you get the gist.) If Tigers hitters are better prepared for him this time, Rodriguez needs to be ready to adjust accordingly.
Game 3: Saturday, 1:10 PM, MASN 2
RHP Dean Kremer (2-0, 6.20) vs. LHP Matthew Boyd (1-1, 4.26)
In five starts, the only one in which Kremer hasn’t given up at least four runs was against the punchless Nationals, so perhaps he’ll enjoy similar success against the equally lifeless Tigers offense. He needs all the help he can get, as he’s not really been fooling many hitters. Kremer’s expected batting average (.290) and expected slugging (.578) rank in the 16th and sixth percentiles, respectively, so you can’t blame bad luck. Kremer has never pitched against the Tigers, and no hitter on their current roster has ever faced him.
Boyd, originally acquired by the Tigers in the David Price trade with Toronto in 2015, is the most tenured pitcher on the team’s staff (although with a brief hiatus last year, which he spent with the Giants and Mariners). He’s pitched 151 games in his Tigers career, all but four of them starts, and was often the de facto leader on some very bad pitching staffs. His workload has been carefully managed since he underwent flexor tendon surgery in 2020, and he has yet to work longer than five innings in a start this year.
Game 4: Sunday, 1:40 PM, MASN 2
RHP Kyle Bradish (1-1, 6.30) vs. RHP Spencer Turnbull (1-3, 7.25)
It’s hard to know what to expect from Bradish, who thus far has had one terrific start (six scoreless against the Nationals), one horrific (seven runs versus Boston), and one incomplete (a second-inning injury in Texas). Like Kremer, he has no prior history against the Tigers or any of their current hitters. A Detroit offense that’s collectively batting .208/.274/.324 against right-handed pitchers could be just what Bradish needs to get back on track after the Red Sox roughed him up.
Turnbull, the Tigers’ second round pick in 2014, had been trending upward in his career until undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021 that cost him all of last season. He’s been struggling in his return to the mound this year, giving up 25 hits, 12 walks, and 18 runs in 22.1 innings. The only current Oriole who’s faced him more than 10 times is Ryan O’Hearn, his former AL Central opponent, who has reached base five times in 19 plate appearances.
The last time the Orioles visited Comerica Park, last May, they came into town on the upswing — having won six of eight games — and promptly got swept by the lowly Tigers in one of their most depressing series of the year. Will the Orioles take care of business this time around, or will they again be singing the Motown blues?
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Tigers?
This poll is closed
4 (Orioles sweep!)
0 (Orioles get swept)