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Orioles turn page on road trip, begin challenging homestand

CLEVELAND — The Orioles' just-completed three-city, nine-game road trip can be evaluated several ways.

They return to Baltimore with two series wins – they took two of three in bookend series at Anaheim and Cleveland – but they still had a 4-5 record thanks to a horrendous three-game sweep to Houston.

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"It's half full, half empty," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's behind us and we're moving on. I don't look at it any way. I don't. Somebody will say you won two out of three series and somebody will say you got beat three times in Houston.

"Close the door, get on the plane and sleep real fast for our three hours sleep and play again. I'm real proud of that. The start times and all the things that are going on, we know what it's about. We're supposed to be a traveling entertainment group. Some nights it's not as entertaining as others. So, we'll see if we can entertain tomorrow. We know Boston will."

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Now the Orioles come home for a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox, who lead the Orioles by a game in the American League East. It's a big series that kicks off a 10-game homestand that will also include three games against the Yankees and three against the Royals.

The Orioles have played extremely well at home, going 17-8 at Camden Yards. They are 11-12 on the road.

"Every win counts the same," Orioles set-up man Darren O'Day said. "They've been playing well. We have to play well on the road to achieve the goals that we've set forth, so every win is important."

The Orioles will face division opponents in 17 of their next 20 games. That includes seven games against the Red Sox and seven against the Blue Jays.

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Outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, fresh off hitting his first major league home run on Sunday, has started five straight games and is 7-for-18 in that stretch.

The Orioles will face knuckleballer Steven Wright in Monday's 1:35 p.m. game. Kim never faced a knuckleballer playing in the Korean Baseball Organization, so will the streak of starts end Monday?

Wright has been tough. He's allowed three or fewer runs in eight of his nine starts this season and he's gone seven or more innings in three of his last four starts.

The knuckleball leaves the Orioles susceptible to a lot of swings and misses, but after what we saw in Houston, that shouldn't be a surprise.

Showalter revealed after Sunday's game that right-hander Tyler Wilson was available out of the bullpen on Sunday to pitch in long relief in case Chris Tillman was bumped from the game early. He ideally wanted left-hander T.J. McFarland for Sunday, but the team wasn't able to get him to Cleveland for Sunday's afternoon start. Still, we could see him during the homestand.

He didn't need to use Wilson, as Tillman went six innings and earned the win. So Wilson will start Monday, as expected.

Wilson tossed three scoreless innings in relief against the Red Sox back on April 13, retiring nine of the 11 batters he faced in 4-2 loss.

Monday's game will mark the Orioles' fourth different start time in as many days. So much for getting in a routine. It's also rare to play a Monday afternoon game following a Sunday afternoon game, let alone doing it in different cities, but the Orioles traditionally like to play their Memorial Day game in the afternoon.

"It's a challenge," Showalter said. "Everybody's got their tales of woe. … I think it's obvious at this point that it's something that's not going to change and not something that's a priority for the people who make the decisions….I think a lot of it, if you try to look at it form a fans standpoint if it's the best thing for them. It's a 1:35 game on Memorial Day. It's a day game [Sunday in Cleveland] for people who have a work day tomorrow. I'm not really sure about the 4 o'clock [game on Saturday]. …. Usually someone will say it's about TV. Well if it's about TV, it's about what best for the fans because it's about viewership. I know I personally understand it. I know the players [understand it] It's something that directly affects how teams can compensate their players, so you try to keep that in mind."

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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