The red-hot Baltimore Orioles sit at 22 wins to tie the highest mark in the American League and look to complete a weekend sweep of the .500 Minnesota Twins in Sunday’s matinee at Target Field in the Twin Cities.
The Baltimore Orioles have been so good in the early part of 2013 largely due to their prolific offense, which has put up 179 runs already on the year. Chris Davis has slowed some since his sizzling start to the campaign but he has continued to pace himself at an All-Star rate with 10 homeruns and 33 runs batted in during his first 120 at-bats this year. He still does struggle some with left-handers, which is what he will get tomorrow with Twins’ pitcher Scott Diamond on the hill. Davis is 0-3 career against Diamond but the rest of the Orioles team has had some success, going 6 for 17 career against the southpaw including 2 for 3 career showings from both Nick Markakis and Adam Jones who anchor the dangerous middle of the Orioles lineup. As a team, Baltimore struggles against lefty pitchers, hitting just .229 with a .282 on-base percentage. In fact, with the exception of Brian Roberts who has appeared in just one game against a left-hander, not a single member of the Baltimore lineup bats at a clip over .273 against a left-handed pitcher this season. Diamond should pose as a tough matchup coming off of a brilliant outing against American League East opponent Boston in his last start. Diamond scattered just three hits over seven strong innings at Fenway Park against the Red Sox and looks to stymy another AL East team similarly on Sunday. He has yet to allow more than three earned runs since his first start of the season against the New York Mets when he yielded four in just over four innings of work.
The Twins look to salvage a game at home over the weekend but, like Baltimore, runs should come at a premium against a tough matchup against Wei-Yin Chen. After a great rookie season last year, Chen has looked fairly strong in his sophomore season despite just a 2-3 record to show for it. The active Twins have decent numbers (5 for 17) against Chen in a very small – and relatively unrepresentative – sample size. Chen has been roughed around in his last two outings, giving up 17 hits, but managed to just allow two earned runs in his last start against the Royals. However, his previous five starts saw Chen just allow 23 hits and he should get back on track against a relatively weak Minnesota lineup. Chen induced a season-high 14 ground ball outs in his last outing, which is a good sign for him with a hard sinker that appears to be getting back on track.
This game could be a struggle for both teams to score in the early going with two great starting pitchers in what should be another freezing day of baseball in the outdoors of Minnesota. The total of 8 is not incredibly appealing with two bullpens that can be suspect at times but the first 5 innings total does look nice here.
Free Pick: Under 4.5 First 5 Innings