If you go by the old adage that good pitching beats good hitting, this week's four-game series featuring two of the most prolific offenses in the American League are set up for quite a battle at Camden Yards.
Boston, with its high-priced rotation, is supposed to be set up this way. But manager Buck Showalter said the way the Orioles rotation is lined up, with its top four starters — Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, a resurgent Ubaldo Jimenez, and a healthy Chris Tillman — all pitching well and scheduled to face Boston, is a happy coincidence.
"I'm sure Boston will have something to say about the reliability," Showalter said. "They've been pitching competitively for us, and giving us a chance to win. Pitching in the American League, the American League East, is really, really hard. … It's hard, pitching. I think because of the age and some of our guys, the experience level with [Gausman] and Bundy, we're hoping Chris is all right. Ubaldo has been pitching better — we'll see."
Those four are matched up with Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Clay Buchholz, and David Price. Both rotations have stabilized in the second half of the season after rocky starts.
Orioles slugging first baseman Chris Davis said the emergence of so many reliable starters outside of Tillman has been a boost for the Orioles.
"I think that we always knew that the potential was there, especially with Ubaldo, because he's got a good track record," Davis said. "I think we expected Kevin and Dylan to learn and make the adjustments, but the fact that they did that so quickly has been huge for us. It's really given us a shot in the arm. I'm excited to see it."
In September, the Orioles' rotation has a 4.19 ERA, fourth in the American League, and behind Boston's 4.05 September ERA. Stretched out over the second half, Boston's is much better at a 3.75 ERA — best in the American League since the break. The Orioles' second-half ERA is 4.44, ninth-best in the AL.
Still, the foursome they're running out to face Boston in hopes of erasing a three-game division deficit has been pitching at a higher level than that of late.
Showalter said they don't have the luxury of lining up their rotation as the Toronto Blue Jays did for a crucial series against the Orioles earlier this month, or Boston did for this series.
That the Orioles' scheduled starters look as formidable as they do in such a big series without that luxury is, as it turns out, a luxury in itself that they haven't enjoyed for years.
Miley much better: Showalter seemed surprised when relaying that left-hander Wade Miley, who was initially diagnosed with upper back cramps and later assessed to have a mild muscle strain after leaving Sunday's game after four shutout innings, was much better Monday.
"He went out and threw and feels pretty good, so we're hoping it's more the original diagnosis [of upper back cramps] than the latter [muscle strain]," Showalter said. "We'll see. He went out and felt good, actually threw today. So we'll see where he fits in."
"I'm good to go," Miley said. "I felt fine today. … It was just cramps or something down in my shoulder blade. I don't know what it was, but I feel better today."
Miley would be on track to start Friday's series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks, though Yovani Gallardo will warrant consideration, because he last pitched on Sept. 15. The Orioles need a fifth starter twice more this season.
Around the horn: The Orioles announced a two-year contract extension with the Aberdeen Ironbirds to keep their New York-Penn League affiliate local through 2018. Aberdeen was the only Orioles affiliate up for renewal this season.