(AP) — The seesaw of wins and losses has to end at some point for the Baltimore Orioles.
Eyeing a postseason push, the Orioles have traded victories and defeats through the first eight games of August.
Baltimore looks to shake off its most recent downswing from a walkoff loss to the team its chasing for the second wild-card spot with Monday night’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
The Orioles (56-54) won six of their final seven games of July but have been unable to carry that success over to this month. They dropped two of three in Anaheim over the weekend and fell three games back of the Angels for a playoff spot with Sunday’s 5-4, 11-inning defeat.
Baltimore took two of three from Seattle (52-60) in mid-May and this matchup pits southpaws Wei-Yin Chen and Vidal Nuno against each other.
Chen (5-6, 3.32 ERA) was Baltimore’s top pitcher through the first half of the season, bringing a 2.78 ERA into the All-Star break. He has struggled since with a 6.30 ERA in four starts, allowing 30 hits – five of them home runs – in 20 innings.
Opponents are batting .353 against Chen since the break, and he has allowed 10 hits twice, a number reached only once in 17 previous appearances.
“Ever since the second half started, I’ve felt not as good as the first half so I tried to do a couple different (mechanical) things that didn’t work out,” Chen told MLB’s official website through an interpreter. “So now, I don’t want to keep doing that.”
He has failed to complete six innings in his last three outings, snapping a streak of six-straight quality starts. Chen – who has matched his loss total from a year ago when he went 16-6 – surrendered three runs and four hits while walking four in five innings of Wednesday’s 7-3, 12-inning win at Oakland.
He went seven innings against Seattle on May 20, yielding four runs in a 4-2 loss.
Chen will face a red-hot Nelson Cruz, who extended his league-leading hit streak to 19 games with a solo home run in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Texas. The hitting streak ties a career long for Cruz and his homer pulled him even with Mike Trout for the major league lead at 33.
Cruz is hitting .422 during his streak with 12 home runs and 16 RBIs. He has an extra-base hit in nine straight, one short of the team record set by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993. Cruz has seven home runs in that span. He is 2 for 9 with a double lifetime against Chen.
“I don’t even know where we would be without him,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Cruz. “He’s been tremendous on and off the field. It’s unbelievable what he’s accomplished this year. You look up at the board and it’s almost jaw-dropping. You see the numbers. The slugging percentage, the OPS, it’s off the charts.”
Nuno (0-0, 2.88) will make his second straight start after 19 relief appearances with the Mariners this year.
Starting, however, hasn’t been kind to Nuno. He made 28 starts last season – 14 with the New York Yankees and 14 with Arizona – posting a 2-12 record and 4.29 ERA. In his lone start against the Orioles last June, he permitted five runs in 6 1-3 innings.
He lasted just 3 2-3 innings on Tuesday as Colorado knocked him around for three runs and five hits.
Chris Davis extended his hitting streak to seven games with his 29th home run Sunday. Davis has 10 homers since July 22 and is 2 for 4 against Nuno.
Adam Jones is also 2 for 4 against Nuno with a home run.