Late August baseball can be a stressful time for both the teams and fans, this is the time where the word "playoffs" gets thrown around a lot. For the next month of baseball, the Orioles battle against other teams in the American League East eight more times which means this team could either gain a lot of ground or lose a lot of ground.
The past series against the Tampa Bay Rays was not in the Orioles' favor, losing 2 out of 3 games and leaving a total of 30 players on base. By losing those two games, that bumped the Orioles out of Wild Card contention moving them 3 games behind and 5.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox who are currently first in the division. Starting tonight, the Orioles could gain those games back as they play a three game series against the Oakland Athletics, who currently hold the other Wild Card spot.
In April, Baltimore took 3 out of 4 from the Athletics when they went against each other in Oakland. The Orioles outhit Oakland 47-31 and had strong pitching from Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Tillman. In this upcoming series, Bud Norris & Chris Tillman take the mound while the pitcher for the third game is to be determined. Norris has been extremely consistent and currently has a record of 3-1, 3.93 ERA with Baltimore after being acquired from Houston and the Orioles have won four of the five games that he's pitched. Norris went against Oakland in his final start with Houston and allowed three runs and four hits in 6.1 innings. He will be up against Dan Straily, 6-7 with a 4.22 ERA, who Matt Wieters is 2-for 2 with two home runs. Wieters is currently on a hot streak, going 4-for-10 in the last three games with a home run, double and three RBI's. A comparison between both of tonight's starters and batter vs. pitcher, per CBS Sports:
If the Orioles want to take this series from Oakland, the offense needs to step it up. As mentioned before, Baltimore left a total of 30 players on base in the Tampa Bay series and went 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position. It's going to be tough to win games and make playoffs again this year when the offense can't even hit a sacrifice fly ball to score a run. Oakland has lost five of Straily's last six starts and he hasn't won since July 9 so tonight is the time to capitalize against Straily's struggling starts. Fans have been happy with just winning series but now it's time to be greedy and start getting those sweeps as playoffs are right around the corner.