Well, the Orioles got the two big series out of the way on this homestand. At least that is what most people are thinking. With the New York Mets coming to town, the Birds might have more of a challenge than people are expecting. After sweeping the Mets at the Yard last season, we come into this series with the edge in terms of last season’s win-loss record in head-to-head. Where the Mets have the edge? They are 32-28, a solid 4 games over .500 in a very competitive NL East, where they sit in 3rd place, not even half a game back from the 2nd place struggling Phillies (have played 2 less games, record of 31-27, winning percentage .001 higher).
The Mets have surprised everybody so far this season. The past few years, most have viewed the Mets as a joke, taking in any free agent left over after the big names are claimed. The Luis Castillo and other outfielder mess-up moments didn’t help out their reputation either. Their core rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and Jonathon Niese are a combined 15-6, while their entire pitching staff’s ERA is an outstanding 3.79. K-Rod is 12-15 in save situations, and the Mets are 2nd in all of baseball in shutouts recorded with 8.
At the plate, the Mets are surely quick to the point. 3rd in the league in triples (17) and 2nd in steals (62), the Mets hitters will certainly challenge the Orioles struggling defense this weekend to make plays when necessary to get out of jams. They are in the bottom 3rd of the league in most well known hitting categories (average, OBP, slugging, OPS), so the key for Orioles pitchers in this series is to induce ground balls and just prevent the Mets from stacking up hits in one inning. With their speed, they can capitalize on any error, so the runs scored against us really will end up being the responsibility of the defense. The infield needs to be in sync, and the outfield will need to be on their game if it comes down to making a throw home. I believe in the three big pitchers we have going against them, but I start doubting us when it comes to the defensive support. Tejada has been struggling all year to make plays, Lugo has been messing up a bit lately, and Wigginton just doesn’t fit in. Luckily, Moore has been showing up to win on the field, making some nice runs and throws to 1st in last night’s game.
Speaking of Moore, the Orioles key to the series will once again be to stack up hits. The Mets pitching may be good, but our hitting can be even better at its best (yet to see that this season, but I believe it). I know it sounds cliché to say that the key is to get hits and score, but it has to be the obvious key for us coming in considering how we have fared recently in terms of runs (see total runs scored in 10 game losing streak, hint: averaged under 2 per game). Scott Moore is up from his average of under .100 his first bunch of games, hitting .231 now. Starting the season off going 0-9 in his first 4 games, Moore is 6 for his last 17, adding his first career home run last night off of A.J. Burnett.
Another guy on the move in the right direction at the plate is Adam Jones. Jones has a .282 average on the season at home, with a slugging percentage in June so far of .469. He is only hitting .250 (8-32) in June so far, but has hit safely in 7 of 9 games this month. He also hit safely in 21 of 27 games in May, ending the month with a .279 average in that span of time, and did stack up 5 RBIs in this past 3 game series against the Yankees. His eye needs to improve a lot still. Striking out at least once in 11 of his last 12 games, Jones is losing out on a lot of good hitting opportunities by swinging at all of these pitches down in the zone. If he can work on the patience factor, he could pull off a much higher average on the season.
After winning 2 of the last 4, the O’s come into the end of this home stand with some hope to beat the Mets at least once or twice.
- Friday – BAL: Jeremy Guthrie, RHP (3-6, 3.71), NYM: R.A. Dickey, RHP (3-0, 3.20)
- Saturday – BAL: Brian Matusz, LHP (2-6, 5.10), NYM: Hisanori Takahashi, LHP (4-2, 3.80)
- Sunday – Kevin Millwood, RHP (0-7, 4.64), NYM: Mike Pelfrey, RHP (8-1, 2.23)