Houston At Cleveland, 6:10 p.m. (CT)
I have to come clean TCB readers, I want the Orioles to make the playoffs. I'm not necessarily an O's fan, but I do own one of the new cartoon bird hats. Which in my opinion is the second-best cap in baseball behind the new "star-H" cap with the orange brim. My dad grew up in the D.C.; he watched the Senators leave town and became an O's fan. We rooted for Ripken's Orioles as they battled the Yankees time and time again in the 1990's. Baltimore became my de facto American League team before the Astros moved out west this season.
So I have a long history with the O's, not to mention the fact Bud Norris could be pitching in the playoffs for the first time in his career. Houston could go a long way in helping their former teammate to make the playoffs with three games against the Rangers and Indians each. Both teams are currently ahead the O's in the Wild Card standings.
There is no better pitcher for the task at the moment then Brett Oberholter, Obe' has continued to be lights-out since joining the rotation after Bud Norris was traded at the deadline. As a starter, he has a record of 4-3 with 2.38 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. The Astros' left-hander made his first appearance of the season against Cleveland on April 21, he pitched two innings and gave up two earned runs. Obe' faced eight Cleveland batters in that game, only three batters reached base. Unfortunately, all three hits went for extra bases - Ryan Raburn laced a double in the gap, Carlos Santana hit a solo home run, and Drew Stubbs also went deep off Oberholtzer.
Obe' is coming off a start were he tied his season-high for earned runs allowed for a start - giving up four to the Angels over six innings. Before that start, he allowed only one run over his last 15 innings with 10 strikeouts.
On the mound for the Indians is Zach McAllister, the right-hander who has a good mix between his lower 90's fastball and his change up. He also has a slider and cutter to work into the mix. Three of McAllister's last four starts have resulted in teams scoring four or more runs. McAllister rebounded from three straight starts without getting out of the five inning, with 6.2 innings of one-run ball ball against the White Sox in his last start.
The lone Astro with previous at-bats against McAllister is Chris Carter, who is 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs batted in.