When the Houston Astros made the move from the National League to the American League to even the two leagues at 15 teams a piece, one of the consequences became spread out and continuous Inter-league games. Whether good or bad, it does present fans with rare opportunities to see a team they haven't in years and that is the case beginning tonight as the Baltimore Orioles play host to the Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati will enter the series with the Birds grasping on slim hopes for a playoff spot, while the Orioles are cruising with a 8 1/2 game lead in the AL East and four games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the top seed in the AL.
Here are the pitching matchups for the three game series:
- Bud Norris (11-8, 4.00 ERA) vs Mat Latos (5-3, 3.15 ERA)
- Miguel Gonzalez (7-7, 3.61 ERA) vs Dylan Axelrod (1-0, 1.64 ERA)
- Chris Tillman (11-5, 3.36 ERA) vs Mike Leake (10-11, 3.38 ERA)
As you could probably tell simply from the pitching matchups, both teams have pretty quality starting pitching, and the Orioles are going to miss one of the Reds best starters, former Oriole Alfredo Simon. This series will put two of the top half pitching staffs up against each other as the Reds 3.50 ERA ranks 10th in MLB, while the Orioles 3.59 ERA ranks 13th. The two teams are not separated very far in regards to WHIP either as the Reds are 9th with a 1.23 WHIP, while the Birds are 13th with a 1.26 WHIP.
Where the Orioles staff does separate itself is in the bullpen, the O's have the 8th best bullpen ERA in all of baseball with their 3.11 ERA, while the Reds bullpen ranks near the bottom (24th) with their 4.00 ERA. Obviously, the Orioles goal offensively should be to work the starters to get into that weak bullpen as quickly as possible.
Offensively, Baltimore has a clear cut advantage in almost every category as they come in 7th in all of baseball in average (.257), 7th in runs (591) and have hit 23 more home runs than any other team in baseball.
Cincinnati on the other hand, has struggled mightily at the plate as they are 18th in home runs (109), 28th in runs (515) and 28th in average (.240).
One aspect that the Reds do own a slight advantage is defensively, which is rare to hear for Orioles fans. Cincinnati owns the best fielding percentage in all of baseball with a .988 fielding percentage and have committed the fewest errors in the game. We state that the advantage is slight because the Orioles have the third best fielding percentage in baseball.
It will be fun to once again root against the Reds as these two teams have met in some crucial times in generations past, but this time it is not the Big Red Machine coming to Baltimore.
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