The Baltimore Orioles are the team that just won't collapse. No matter how many pitchers they lose to injury (already used 11 starting pitchers this season) and regardless of how many blown saves Jim Johnson can have they keep fighting back and refuse to wilt under the pressure of high expectations. Count me in as one who kept waiting for the collapse last year, did not feel they improved over the winter, and thought that they'd quickly come down to earth in a tough AL East in 2013. Here we are heading in to the second weekend in June and the 32-27 Rays are 1.5 games behind the 34-26 Orioles.
The two teams have already met 9 times this season with the Rays holding a 5-4 advantage. The Rays swept the most recent series in Baltimore May 17 thorough 19th but that Orioles treated that as a speed bump as they arrive in St. Petersbug winners of 11 of their last 16 games.
The pitching matchups for the weekend series are: Jason Hammel (7-3, 5.43 ERA) vs Chris Archer (0-1, 11.25 ERA) on Friday at 7:10 p.m., Kevin Gausman (0-2 7.20 ERA) vs Jeremy Hellickson (3-2, 5.59 ERA) on Saturday at 4:10 p.m., and Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.97 ERA) vs Matt Moore (8-1, 2.95 ERA).
Chris Davis continues to torch the baseball. On the season he is posting a slash line of .356/.436/.740 with a .473 wOBA and a 207 wRC+. He has 20 HR and 20 doubles and is the first player since 1921 to have 20 of each in his teams first 60 games. On his current pace he would hit 55 home runs and 55 doubles and join Albert Belle as the only player to eclipse 50 of each in a season...and Belle did his trick in only 143 games in 1995.
Manny Machado leads the majors in doubles with 26 and is tied for 2nd in MLB with 26 multi-hit games.
Since May 18th the Orioles have stolen 18 consecutive bases.
The Orioles have at least two extra base hits in 34 straight games and they have homered 31 times in their last 15 games. They lead the majors in home runs (84), extra base hits (219), and slugging (.465). They are second in the AL in OPS (.794), runs scored (301), hits (571), doubles (130), and batting average (.276). The table below represents the Orioles offense over the past 30-days.
Jim Johnson seems to be over his struggles that he experienced in mid-May and has recorded 20 saves. Over his last 4 appearances he has worked 4 scoreless innings allowing only 2 hits striking out 5 and walking 0. Tommy Hunter has really settled in to the Orioles bullpen. Since April 12th he is 3-0 with an 0.95 ERA and has struck out 21 and walked only 5 in a span of 28.1 innings pitched. The table below represents the relievers performance over the past 30-days.
The Rays faced Hammel on May 17th and knocked him out of the game in the 5th inning. He only worked 4.2 innings allowed 7R/ER on 10 hits striking out 4 and walking 2. Since that outing he has made 3 starts and worked 17.2 innings posting a record of 2-1 with a 4.58 ERA striking out 14, walking 5, and allowing 4 home runs.
Gasuman was the Orioles #1 pick last season (#4 overall) and rocketed to the big leagues after only 13 minor league starts between 2012 and 2013. He will be making his 4th big league start and in his first 3 he's worked 15 innings giving up 12R/ER on 20 hits with 9 strike outs and 3 walks.
Gausman works off his 96-98 MPH four-seam fastball with features significant arm side run and sink when located down in the zone. The pitch frequently touched 99 MPH, even in later innings. When elevated up in the zone, the pitch maintained velocity but flattened out and became hittable. On Friday, Gausman demonstrated a clear preference to keep the pitch down in the zone — where it was most effective — a tendency which may explain his 51.5% ground ball rate this year.
The Rays have faced Tillman twice this year and beat him both times. He has worked 11 innings and allowed 7R/ER on 11 hits including 4 home runs.
From the last Series Preview:
Tillman had a very successful 2012 season with the Orioles posting a 9-3 record with a 2.93 ERA but his numbers served as a red flag for many analyst who predicted a downfall 2013 season for him. His FIP in 2012 was 4.25 (xFIP of 4.34) , his BABIP against was .221, and he lost velocity due to an elbow ailment in September. The thought was that he had gotten by with smoke and mirrors and that he'd regress in 2013.