Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals

The past three days the Royals took a beating. It was as if Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, and Joe Louis were all in town. The Royals pitching staff made mistake pitch after mistake pitch and paid for it in high ERA ratings and three more tallies in the loss column. The Twins must have been watching the trailer for the most recent action-star packed movie, The Expendables. For those of you that don’t know this movie features almost every major action movie actor for the past thirty years. There will be lots of blowing stuff up, shooting, and beating up bad guys. As I have mentioned before in previous articles, the average runs per game for the entire MLB is around 4.2. This equals about thirteen runs per three game series. The Twins scored nineteen…in game one. In games two and three they scored another seventeen. That’s an average of twelve runs a game.

The Royals now have lost four straight games this week and have managed to only average around 3.25 runs per game and 8.25 hits during this most recent skid. This has dropped the Royals team offense in the rankings from number 1 to number 2 in hits and team batting average. The good news for the Royals pitching staff is that they are going into the weekend facing a team that has been worse off than the Royals have been this season.

The Orioles have lost five straight games including the last two the Minnesota Twins and three straight to the Toronto Blue Jays. They travel in to Kansas City just before the trading deadline and this may cause some changes in the line up for both sides. The Royals just traded away Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers. The Dodgers did need a left fielder but the Royals outfield will now be in shambles for the rest of the season due to his departure and DeJesus’ injury. The Royals did receive two minor leaguers in return.

Game 1: Matusz (3-11) vs. Davies (5-6)

Davies would love nothing more than to get to .500 as a starting pitcher. He will have a very good chance in doing so against Matusz, who has only one win under his belt since June 1st. The Royals managed quite a few hits against the Orioles but only seven runs. The lack of timely hits and/or extra base hits is an issue that needs to be addressed by the Royals front office soon. I know people have been hurt and one of the Royals best hitters just recently traded but those that are playing need to step up and beat a pitcher that has struggled all year.

In his start against the Orioles earlier this season, Davies gave up seven hits, two runs, two stolen bases and a walk. He did pitch well enough for the win though. The Orioles may have just activated a few players from the long-term DL but Davies should be able to keep the game close for the offense to get back on track and win.

Game 2: Arrieta (3-3) vs. O’ Sullivan (1-1)

Arrieta is a mid-season call up for the Orioles and so far has performed fairly consistent since his debut on June 10th. He is averaging around five to six innings a start and but only went 4.1 innings against the Twins. He allowed seven hits, four walks, and allowed five earned runs. Overall this season, he has seven more walks than strikeouts. The Royals need to take pitches and force him to throw pitches that they can hit.

O’Sullivan, who was acquired in a trade with the Angels (for Callaspo), is glad to see he’s not pitching against the Yankees. His previous two starts were against the Bronx Bombers due to the trade. This will be his first start versus the Orioles. He will need to throw strikes and let his defense work behind him. In his eighteen innings so far this season, he has held his opponents to an average of .209.

Game 3: Bergesen (3-9) Greinke (6-10)

Greinke had some more humble pie in his previous start against the Twins. He lasted only four innings but that was enough to increase his season ERA to over four. He allowed eight hits, walked two, and eight earned runs. He needs to take advantage of one of the poorest hitting teams in baseball on Saturday. He needs to finish strong the last two months of the year otherwise everyone in the baseball world will see his Cy Young win as a fluke. In his start against the Orioles earlier this year, he gave up only four hits and one walk while striking out six. Despite all this effort, he earned a no decision to Sunday’s probable starter for the Orioles, Kevin Millwood thanks to a bullpen collapse.

Bergesen didn’t have such luck against the Royals in his start this season. He was shelled for ten hits and four runs as he made an early exit. The only two Royals not to hit him were Maier and Kendall but still managed a .345 team average for the game. Bergesen is also another Orioles pitcher that has struggled with control this year. The Royals will also need to force him to throw strikes before taking a hack.

Game 4 Millwood (2-10) vs. Chen (5-5)

Millwood is just off the DL to salvage what remains of his season. He, like Greinke for the Royals, has been a victim of poor run support at times. Also, he has made too many bad pitches to win games he should have won. He is capable of keeping the games close but if his teammates don’t hit well, he won’t win. In eight of his starts this year, the Orioles were held to two runs or less. That’s asking a lot out of your pitcher, I don’t care how good he is.

Chen hasn’t won a game since July 3rd. At one point he had more victories than Greinke. He looked like a rookie against the Twins on Tuesday. He gave up eleven hits, three walks and six earned runs in only 5.1 innings pitched. Last season in his only appearance against the Orioles, he gave up eight hits, three runs, two walks, and two stolen bases.

Offense:

The Royals offense has sputtered recently due to an injury to one of their .300+ hitters and trading another. The Royals need to be patient at the plate and get something they can hit. The Orioles offense has sputtered all season which is good news for the Royals pitching staff. The Royals also lost their chief stolen base threat as well.

Defense:

The Royals lost another solid defensive player in the trading of Podsednik, thus weakening their overall team defense even further. But if they play mistake free baseball behind their pitchers, anything can happen. The Orioles are one of the few teams in the league that have played poorer defense than the Royals this year.

Pitching:

The Orioles are ranked near the bottom or at the bottom in most major pitching categories this season. So are the Royals. As bad as the Royals have been though, the Orioles have been even worse at times.

X-factor:

When two teams with poor pitching come together, the hitters are licking their chops. Whichever side has the patience to wait and not force things to happen will win this series. I wouldn’t expect a lot of fireworks in Kansas City over the next four games but it will be interesting to see who can pick themselves back up, dust off, and finish the season on a better note than what it has been so far.

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