(AP) — The Baltimore Orioles are yet to win a game in which they’ve scored fewer than four runs, and while their concerns on the mound can’t be ignored, there’s another reason they haven’t yet won a pitchers’ duel.
Over the last nine games, they’re batting .310 and averaging 6.11 runs.
They’ll try to carry that offense into a three-game home series with the White Sox beginning Monday night, and the Orioles might catch a break by avoiding Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija as Chicago’s top starters await word on suspension appeals.
The offense erupted in Sunday’s 18-7 home win over Boston with 20 hits to match their top totals since managing 22 on Aug. 17, 2008. The Orioles (9-10) got five RBIs from Delmon Young, who is 13 for 29 in his last eight games. He’s hit Chicago at a .333 clip, which is his best average versus any team he has at least 50 career at-bats against.
“It was one we kind of needed; we had been playing sloppy baseball,” Young told MLB’s official website. “So it was good to get out of the rut. We’ve been swinging the bats well. We just haven’t been playing on the other side of the ball well.”
Baltimore’s 5.04 ERA is the highest in the majors, and it’ll be turning to the erratic Ubaldo Jimenez in the series opener. Jimenez (1-1, 2.30 ERA) allowed four runs and six hits in five innings of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss in Toronto, and while he’s held opponents to a .135 average, he’s walked six in 8 2-3 innings over his last two starts.
Still, 4.02 walks per nine innings is an improvement over a 4.68 mark over the previous three seasons. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.45 ERA in six starts against the White Sox in that time. Conor Gillaspie is 5 for 11 against Jimenez, Adam Eaton is 3 for 4 and Jose Abreu is 1 for 3 with a home run.
Baltimore’s entire season thus far has come against AL East teams, and Chicago might be a good team to step out of the division against. Since the start of 2012, the Orioles are 15-6 versus the White Sox.
Chicago (8-9), however, completed two wins over Kansas City on Sunday – the regularly scheduled 5-3 win and a 3-2 victory from Friday’s suspended game – and are 8-5 since dropping their first four.
“Over the last five or six games we’ve played a really good brand of baseball,” White Sox reliever Zach Duke said.
Abreu was 1 for 4 in Sunday’s contest with an RBI and is batting .424 with three homers and 12 RBIs on an eight-game hitting streak.
Sale and Samardzija were among those suspended for Thursday’s brawl with Kansas City, both being given five-game bans, and were scheduled to start the second and third games of the series.
No matter how the appeals work out, Hector Noesi will start the opener, and he’s probably not the guy the White Sox want facing a hot Baltimore lineup. Noesi (0-2, 5.23) has dropped five consecutive starts dating to the middle of September, and he’s walked seven in 10 1-3 innings of his two starts this season.
The right-hander is 0-3 with a 7.08 ERA in four starts against Baltimore with Adam Jones going 6 for 10 with two home runs in their matchups. Left fielder Alejandro De Aza, acquired from Chicago in August, is 5 for 8 and could face his former team for the first time.