The Baltimore Orioles salvaged a game in their three game series with the Cleveland Indians on Sunday to avoid the sweep, but they still hold a seven game lead in the AL East and are just two games back of the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A's for the best record in the American League. The O's now head to the windy city for three games against both of Chicago's teams and here is the deep dish for the Orioles in this six game stretch.
Despite losing their first series in their last nine, the Orioles are still in great shape as they continue to lead the division by a large amount, still own a 2 1/2 game lead over the Kansas City Royals for the "2 seed" in the playoff race and as we already mentioned, they have closed the gap for the "1 seed" to two games.
The AL Central has been the only division in the AL to give Baltimore fits this season as they are 10-16 against the AL Central, while they are 60-36 against the rest of their opponents, including a 9-5 record in interleague play.
The O's will begin a three game series against the White Sox tonight, before an off day Thursday and then a three game set against the Cubs to close out the week. Here are the pitching matchups for the series against the White Sox:
- Monday – Bud Norris (10-7, 3.75 ERA) vs Chris Sale (10-2, 2.01 ERA)
- Tuesday – Chris Tillman (6-9, 3.68 ERA) vs Jose Quintana (6-9, 3.14 ERA)
- Wednesday – Wei-Yin Chen (12-4, 3.76 ERA) vs Hector Noesi (7-7, 4.35 ERA)
After Chen, the Orioles rotation for the Cubs series is still up in the air with Ubaldo Jimenez coming off a poor performance and Miguel Gonzalez waiting for the call back up to the big leagues. One thing seems for certain in the Cubs series and that is that Baltimore will get their first look at former O's starter Jake Arrieta, who is having a phenomenal year for the Cubbies.
This is an important week for Baltimore as the White Sox (59-65) and Cubs (53-70) are a combined 23 games under .500 and although the Orioles will see some tough pitchers, neither offense scares you and this is a great opportunity for Baltimore to almost put the division away.
One hurdle that the Orioles will need to overcome and figure out is their issue they seem to have with day games, as all three games against the Cubs will be day games and Baltimore will have to improve on their 18-22 record, including the pitching staff who still boasts a 4.74 ERA in day games despite yesterday's strong performance.
The two closest teams to Baltimore in the AL East race, the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays will have a reasonably weak week as New York plays three against the Houston Astros and three against the White Sox, all six games of which will be in the Bronx, while the Blue Jays only play five games over the next seven days, including two at Milwaukee and three at home against the Tampa Bay Rays.
This week presents the Orioles with an opportunity, but as seems to be the worry of most O's fans, it will be how the team responds to player lesser competition, which seems to effect the O's in the win column.
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