Where: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch hasn’t enjoyed the ride on which his team has been during its four-game losing streak. Outscored by a gaudy 29-11 margin during the skid, the Astros look to turn the tide on Thursday as they open a four-game series against the host Baltimore Orioles.
“The rollercoaster ride that we’ve been on is no fun when we’re in this portion of it,” Hinch said after his team’s pitching was shredded for the third straight game in an 8-2 setback against St. Louis on Wednesday. “This game will test your character, it’ll test your resolve, it’ll test your ability to come back from adversity, and this is another test for us.” Baltimore isn’t singing a much happier tune after losing the first two contests of its eight-game homestand – including an 8-1 rain-shortened defeat to Boston on Wednesday. The Orioles, who lead the Astros by 5 1/2 games for the second wild card in the American League, reside two games behind East-leading Toronto and one in back of the second-place Red Sox.
TV: 7:05 p.m. MASN2 (Baltimore)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Joe Musgrove (1-0, 1.47 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Kevin Gausman (3-10, 4.04)
Musgrove secured his first career victory while recording his second straight quality start on Friday, allowing two runs in seven innings of a 5-3 win at Toronto. The triumph was especially sweet for the 23-year-old, who was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2011. Musgrove struck out seven in that contest and has fanned 13 batters while walking one over his last two outings.
Gausman has yielded two runs in each of his last three outings and matched a season high with nine strikeouts on Saturday in a 6-2 setback at San Francisco. The 25-year-old only lasted four innings, however, as six walks drove up his pitch count. Gausman struggled in his lone career start versus Houston, surrendering three homers and four runs overall in five innings of a 4-2 loss on May 26.
1. Houston RF George Springer, who belted two homers off Gausman in the previous meeting, is just 1-for-13 with six strikeouts in his last four games.
2. Baltimore is just 11-19 against AL West representatives this season.
3. Astros rookie 3B Alex Bregman is batting .312 with seven RBIs in his last 11 games.
PREDICTION: Orioles 4, Astros 3