Orioles finding themselves fortunate by missing opposing aces of late

The Baltimore Sun
Sometimes, a little bit of scheduling luck can fuel a hot streak. Just ask the Orioles.

Sometimes you need a little luck to make the postseason. And as the Orioles battle for a playoff spot with the final third of the season getting under way, it seems they have developed a knack for missing opposing teams' aces.

It started July 30 when the Detroit Tigers shipped left-handed ace David Price and his then-2.53 ERA to the Toronto Blue Jays. It meant the Orioles wouldn't have to face Price that Sunday at Camden Yards. But top prospect Daniel Norris, who came over in the deal, pitched a one-run gem in his place.

Nonetheless, since that Detroit series and through the Orioles' four-game against the Oakland Athletics from Aug. 14-17, they either have already missed the opposing team's ace or are scheduled to do so.

In the 17-game stretch, the Orioles face teams that had the American League's top three in ERA, and five of the top eight before July trades sent some of those pitchers elsewhere. With a little bit of luck thanks to deadline deals and rotation scheduling, the Orioles aren't currently scheduled to see any of them.

During the Orioles' most recent three-game series in Oakland, they avoided facing right-hander Sonny Gray, whose 2.06 ERA leads the AL. Left-hander Scott Kazmir has the AL's second-best ERA (2.08) and would've been a possibility in the series, but the Athletics sent him to the Houston Astros on July 23.

Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, who the Orioles faced Friday, was probably the hottest starter they were scheduled to see during this stretch. He was 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA in seven starts before allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings Friday against the Orioles.

Right-hander Garrett Richards went into his start Saturday with a 3.46 ERA and right-hander Jered Weaver, a former 20-game winner, is returning from the disabled list to start Sunday, but he has struggled to a 4.75 ERA this season.

Even with that, the Angels' most consistent pitcher this season, left-hander Hector Santiago, whose 2.78 ERA in his first 21 starts ranks sixth in the AL, won't take the hill against the Orioles.

After the Angels series, the Orioles head to Seattle for a three-game set against the Mariners. Don't expect to see the King's Court holding up "K" cards at Safeco Field, though. Right-hander Felix Hernandez, a former Cy Young winner whose 3.13 ERA ranks eighth in the AL, will pitch Sunday before the Orioles come to town.

The span wraps when the Orioles return home from their West Coast trip to play the Athletics for the second time in four series. With it being a four-game series, it seems the Orioles would have to see Gray. But he isn't scheduled to pitch that series, either.

New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom, whose 2.13 ERA is fourth-best in the majors, will likely end the fun Aug. 18. But until then, the Orioles lineup will benefit from teams' opposing aces staying in the dugout.



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