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Orioles get another shot at Royals' Cueto on Sunday night

Despite Saturday's 14-6 loss to the Royals, the Orioles still have the opportunity to record consecutive series wins for the first time since late July with a win tonight against Kansas City on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

To do that, they'll have to get past Royals starter Johnny Cueto, Kansas City's top trade-deadline acquisition. The Orioles roughed up Cueto on Aug. 26 in Kansas City, scoring six runs on eight hits over five innings in an 8-5 Orioles win.

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The Orioles hit three homers off Cueto that day, the most he's allowed in one game since 2010. Before facing Cueto, the Orioles had an advanced meeting specifically focused on what they had to do to beat Cueto, who can throw hitters off balance with a variety of subtle changes to his delivery.

It didn't hurt that Cueto hung three cutters the Orioles hit out of the ballpark.

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Cueto hasn't pitched well since joining the Royals before the deadline. He is 2-5 with a 4.86 ERA in eight starts in Kansas City. He's lost his last four starts, allowing at least four runs in each outing and posting 9.45 ERA over that span. Opposing batters are hitting .394 against him over that time.

Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen beat the Royals the last time he faced him in that same game Cueto started. Chen allowed 11 baserunners (10 hits, one walk) over 6 2/3 innings, but allowed just three runs.

That 6 2/3-inning outing was Chen's deepest in more than a month (He went 7 1/3 in a 3-2 win in Seattle on Aug. 11). In his last two starts since that outing in Kansas City, Chen failed to go deeper than five innings and pitched to an 8.38 ERA, allowing nine earned runs over 9 2/3 innings.

Like most of the Orioles starters, Chen has some pretty dramatic second-half splits. After pitching to a 2.78 ERA in 17 first-half starts, he has a 4.85 ERA in 10 second-half starts.

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Opposing batters hit just .235 against Chen in the first half. They are hitting .328 against him in the second half.

What has been consistent is Chen's issues with keeping the ball in the park. He's allowed 28 homers – tied for second most in the AL -- in 27 starts. Chen has mostly been able to overcome those numbers since 22 of those homes have been solo shots.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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