The Baltimore Orioles cleaned up on their recent 11-game road trip by posting a 7-4 record and moving to within two games of the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East marathon. Now, they finally get to come home.
On Tuesday night, the Orioles will open a three game series against the red-hot Kansas City Royals, who have won seven out of their last 10 games to bring them within a game of the heavily favored Detroit Tigers.
The Orioles will send left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to the hill for game one. Chen has been an enigma of late, posting his best start of the season (two hits over eight shutout innings) and his worst (five runs on eight hits in just four innings) in back-to-back starts. Overall, the 28-year old native of Taiwan is 2-3 on the season, with a 3.50 ERA.
Kansas City will counter with veteran Ervin Santana, who has been a pleasant surprise for the 2013 Royals. Santana is 3-1 through the season’s first five weeks, with an impressive 2.00 ERA. The right-hander has 31 strikeouts over 36 innings pitched.
Twenty-one-year-old Manny Machado will hope to continue carrying the O’s offense, as he returns to Camden Yards with a .309 batting average, resulting from his 17 hits in 44 at-bats over his last 10 games (.386). Machado has at least one hit in 26 of the team’s 32 games thus far.
The Royals are coming off a disappointing 2-1 extra-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox in which a blown save by Greg Holland wasted a dominant start by ace James Shields (eight innings, two hits, nine strikeouts). On a positive note, outfielder Jeff Francoeur notched his 114th career outfield assist on Monday night, the most in the Majors since his 2005 debut.
Tuesday’s first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 7:05 PM EDT.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)