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Game No. 121 Preview: Houston Astros at Baltimore Orioles

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The Astros open a crucial 4-game series against the Baltimore Orioles, who currently hold the 2nd Wild Card spot in the AL.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (61-59) at Baltimore Orioles (66-53)

TV: Root Sports SW

Online: MLB.TV

Radio: KBME 790 AM, La Nueva 94.1 FM

Orioles SB Nation Blog: Camden Chat

Pitching Matchup

RHP Joe Musgrove (1-0, 1.47 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 1.89 FIP) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (3-10, 4.04 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 4.35 FIP)

Preview

When the sun rose on May 23rd, the Astros had just been swept by the Rangers to run their record to 17-28, which ended up being the low point of this season. The Orioles then came into town and the Astros began their dramatic turn-around that finally ran out of steam the last few weeks. Not only did the Astros sweep the Orioles in that series at Minute Maid, but they even broke a record doing it.

Almost 3 months later, the Astros need to jump start another turn-around and doing it against the Orioles will greatly help their playoff chances, as Baltimore currently holds the 2nd AL Wild Card spot.

The Orioles greatest strength is their ability to change the score with one swing of the bat. They lead the majors in home runs this year with 177 coming into tonight's game. Their weakness is starting pitching. The Orioles' starters have combined for a 4.86 ERA this season, which is the 4th worst among AL teams.

Tonight's starter, Kevin Gausman, has been one of their better starters with a 4.04 ERA, but he has failed to find consistency this season. While Gausman has pitched 7 or more scoreless innings in 3 of his starts this season, he has also given up 5 or more earned runs in 3 of his starts.

Taking the rubber for the Astros tonight is rookie Joe Musgrove. After throwing 4.1 scoreless innings in relief of Lance McCullers in his big league debut on 8/2, Musgrove has made 2 starts in place of the injured McCullers and has looked fantastic in both. He pitched against two potent offenses in the Rangers and Blue Jays, lasting 7 innings in each start and giving up a total of 3 earned runs over both starts combined.

Musgrove, who sported a fantastic 0.11 BB/K ratio in the minors before getting called up, has been able to continue that success in the majors with only 2 walks allowed versus 21 strikeouts. This is a good sign for tonight's game, as Orioles batters have the 3rd-worst BB/K ratio in the league at 0.35.

Go 'Stros!!