AL Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Baltimore Orioles, May 29-June 1, 2014

Bob Levey

The Astros hope to extend five-game winning streak with Bud Norris and the Orioles coming to town.

Baltimore Orioles (26-25) vs. Houston Astros (22-32)

The Orioles come into Houston one game over .500, 4.5 games back of the streaking Blue Jays, and a record of 4-6 in their last last ten games. I would dub any series between these teams the "Bud Norris Classic", because one I don't want to remember Miguel Tejada and the oddball choice Troy Patton was recently traded to San Diego. The O's lost two of three in Milwaukee, which included a walk-off pinch hit double by Yovani Gallardo

What more can be said about the red-hot Astros? They are winners of five in a row, and George Springer is taking the baseball world by storm. The Astros will be looking to avenge a series lost earlier this year on May 9-11, Houston dropped two one-run games in Baltimore. 

Put  a bird on it...

Nelson Cruz is knocking the cover off the ball, he hit his league-leading 18th and 19th home runs Wednesday. He has a slugging percentage of 1.000 over his last 14 game with 18 RBIs. Which is just great since Cruz has had a long history of being an Astro-killer, batting .312 with 13 home runs in his career against Houston. The O's lineup in general has been having good week coming to this weekend's series. Seven players have an OPS over .750 in the team's last seven games. Of course, Cruz (1.885 OPS)  is leading the way but everyday players J.J. Hardy (1.000 OPS), Nick Markakis (.904 OPS), and Adam Jones (.853 OPS). 

Chris Davis who returned to the lineup after a DL stint for the first series with the Astros is batting .236 in the month of May with five home runs. He welcome his first child on Sunday night. Manny Machado returned from his knee injury this month, and has 24 game under his belt - batting .224 with three extra-base hits. Both Davis (.105) and Machado (.190) are batting under .200 over the past week. 

The Astros will once again miss Bud Norris in the rotation, the former Astros has a record of 3-5 with a 4.04 ERA with 1.19 WHIP.

I could get used to this winning thing...

Everything is clicking for the Astros, offense, pitching, and defense. The Astros have scored 34 runs and at least 11 hits in each of the last five games. Jose Altuve and George Springer have lead the way for the astros. The Astros second baseman is batting .402 (33-82) while getting a hit in 19 of his last 20 games. Springer is batting .405 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in his six games. Did I mention his has a ten-game hitting streak? Not to mention the fact that it's been a long time since the Astros have had two players batting over .300 past the first few weeks of the season - Altuve is at .317 and Springer is at .300 for the year. 

Alex Presley has impressed, leading the team in average for the last seven game at .455 (10-22). Chris Carter came to life after spending much of the week working on shorting his swing in the batting cage with two home runs yesterday. 

As a staff, the Astros have 13-13 record with a 3.65 in the month of may. Since the May 11, the Astros bullpen has the best ERA in baseball (1.21) with 43 strikeouts and .180 batting average against in 37.1 innings.  

Pitching Matchups 

RHP Brad Peacock (1-4, 5.20 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (2-6, 4.98 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)

Brad Peacock may be pitching for his spot in the rotation tonight. The Astros brought up Rudy Owens to make a start for Peacock after he was scratched for tightness. The standard of Astros pitching may have been raised past Peacock's standards at the moment. He has a record of 1-2 and a 4.62 ERA with 10 walks and 20 strikeouts.  

Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't hit his stride yet with the O's, posting a 4.98 ERA. Baltimore has lost eight of the last ten games Jimenez has started. He has given up 10 earned runs over his last nine innings pitched. 

 LHP Brett Oberholtzer (1-6, 5.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (3-3, 4.35 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)

Orioles Against Oberholtzer 

  • Chris Davis - 1-3, 1 SO
  • Adam Jones - 0-3
  • Manny Machado - 0-3
  • Nick Markakis - 1-3 

Astros Against Gonzalez

LHP Dallas Keuchel (6-2, 2.55 ERA, 0.98 WHIP) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (4-2, 4.69 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

Orioles Against Keuchel

  • Nelson Cruz - 4-9, 1 HR 
  • Chris Davis - 1-3
  • J.J. Hardy - 1-3 

Astros Against Tillman

  • Jose Altuve - 2-5
  • Jason Castro - 1-5, 1 HR
  • Marc Krauss - 1-2 

 RHP Scott Feldman (3-2, 3.02 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) vs. RHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 4.50 ERA)

Orioles Against Feldman

  • Nelson Cruz - 2-9
  • J.J. Hardy - 1-5, 1 2B
  • Adam Jones - 2-18
  • Nick Markakis - 8-24, 3 2B
  • Delmon Young - 4-14, 2 2B, 1 3B

Astros against Chen

  • Jose Altuve - 3-7 
  • Matt Dominguez - 3-6, 2 2B
  • Robbie Grossman - 3-3, 1 2B

Predictions 

The Astros and Orioles will spit the series. Nelson Cruz and Chris Carter will big home runs series. 

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