May 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) breaks his bat as he grounds out in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Astros defeated the Orioles 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Week of Tough Pitchers Ahead

The Baltimore Orioles dropped the final game of the weekend series against the Houston Astros 5-2 and lost also their five-game winning streak. Though not a playoffs-caliber team, this Astros outfit is better than their record or recent history – especially their starting pitching. They are going to beat some people this year.

The Orioles never appeared to be realistically in the game after starter Chris Tillman began the game with two walks and a three-run homer by Castro. Though he would make it through five complete innings without giving up any more damage, the high pitch count would ultimately work against him pitching into the sixth inning. Have any of you noticed that this is a theme this year … of starters not going deep into games? Just kidding of course. It is maddening to watch.

Though the Orioles would cut the deficit to 3-2 with a pair of runs in the third inning, that was all the scoring the Birds could muster against some good Astros pitching. T.J. McFarland was called upon for three innings where he gave up two more runs. The lefty, who was called up early in the week and who had not pitched in over a week (since 4/29), looked like a guy who had not pitched in a while. He has been sent down to Norfolk again, and will be replaced on the roster with a newcomer to Baltimore – Preston Guilmet. This gives the bullpen four right-handers and three lefties.

The few Orioles highlights on this day when Matt Wieters was sent to the DL included Chris Davis’ return and two solid hits, and the continuation of the 18-game hitting streak by Nick Markakis.

The Orioles have three games coming up at home against the Tigers, and then they travel to Kansas City. The upcoming starting pitching against them looks pretty solid:

Monday – Rick Procello – 5-1 – 3.49

Tuesday – Drew Smyly – 2-2 – 2.96

Wednesday – Justin Verlander – 4-2 – 2.67

Thursday – Yordano Ventura – 2-2 – 2.34

Friday – Jeremy Guthrie – 2-2 – 4.84

Monday’s Matchup

The Tigers will open the series with Rick Porcello who currently has a 5-1 record including a WHIP of 1.06. Over his career he is 2-5 versus the Orioles with a 4.62 ERA.

Some of the Orioles have pretty good offensive numbers against Porcello: Davis has five hits and three homers in 15 at-bats, Markakis is 9-for-21 with a homer, Delmon Young 8-for-22 with a homer, and J.J. Hardy is 7-for-17.  However, Adam Jones is only 3-for-21 and Nelson Cruz 4-for-23. Could we see Lough (2-for-7) in left field with Young DH-ing?

Baltimore Orioles starter Bud Norris has had four decent starts and two very rough outings so far in 2014. He has appeared to be putting it together in recent games, though is still seeking (like all O’s starters) a way to stay on the field for three or four more outs.

In his first start of the season which was against the Tigers, Detroit got five runs in five innings on nine hits. Norris is 0-2 against the Tigers, having made three starts. Tori Hunter is a career 3-for-9 with a homer and six RBIs.

Even with the loss, the Orioles at 20-15 remain in first place by 1.5 games over the Yankees and 2.0 over Boston.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles

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