The second half begins: O's at Sox

Game Preview
Orioles (40-48) at Chicago White Sox (45-43)

After winning their last two series before the All-Star break, the O's begin the second-half tonight at Chicago. It's game one of a three-game series and a nine-game, ten-day road trip.

The Orioles, who have won four of five games, won six of their last nine series before the break, going 15-12 over the last 27 games.

The O's are 13-12-4 in 29 series thus far.

The Orioles are just 14-27 on the road this year, losing seven of the last ten away games.

Series Pitching Matchups:
Fri, 8:10 - Jason Berken (1-6, 5.87) v. John Danks (7-6, 3.91)
Sat, 4:05 - Jeremy Guthrie (6-8, 5.35) v. Mark Buehrle (9-3, 3.66)
Sun, 2:05 - Brad Bergesen (6-3, 3.54) v. Jose Contreras (4-7, 4.54)

The O's pitching was on a mini roll before the break. The team ERA is 2.73 over the last six games and the bullpen allowed just 2ER over its 21 1/3 innings over five games, for an ERA of 0.84 in that stretch.

The Orioles' offense produced just a .216 team average in the last six games and the Orioles were shutout twice in that time.

The Birds are 5-6 in July.

Luke Scott begins play tonight riding an 11-game batting streak. During the streak he is hitting .357 with four homers and 13 RBI. Ty Wigginton is batting .350 over his last 19 games and Gregg Zaun has 11 hits his last 25 at bats.

On the other hand, Nolan Reimold has just four hits in 36 at bats, Aubrey Huff is 3 for 28, Melvin Mora 7 for 41 and Matt Wieters, 2 for 14 at bat.

Brian Roberts has 13 doubles his last 30 games and is second in the AL with 29 two baggers.

Closer George Sherrill has pitched to an ERA of 1.35 over his last 27 games and has recorded 20 of 23 saves on the season.

The Orioles are 2-1 vs. Chicago. In late April, the Birds sandwiched home wins by scores of 10-3 and 6-2 around an 8-2 loss to the Sox.

The White Sox lost three of four games heading into the All-Star break. At 45-43, they are in second in the AL Central, 3 ½ games behind Detroit.

In those four games, the Sox allowed 36 runs.

The Sox have been hitting well and playing well the last few weeks. Chicago has won 10 of its last 15 and 12 of its last 18 games. The Sox had a season-high, seven-game win streak snapped on July 4th.

In the last 18 games, Chicago has a team batting average of .311 and is scoring 6.4 runs per game. Chicago has hit 41 doubles with 28 homers in that stretch.

Chicago's team average of .286 in road games is the best mark in the AL, but its .237 average in home games is the worst in the AL.

The Sox are 22-21 in home games and 5-9 vs. the AL East.

Rookie Gordon Beckham is 5 for 8 over his last two games and is hitting .367 with 12 RBI over his last 16 games. Jim Thome has 7 RBI the last two games. He is sitting on 554 career homers, the 13th best mark all-time. He needs nine homers to tie Reggie Jackson for 12th place.

Schedule Analysis
The O's have 74 games remaining, 34 at home and 40 on the road. The schedule is very tough right out of the All-Star break. The Birds play teams with winning records in 16 of their next 20 games.

After playing 32 of 88 pre break games vs. AL East opponents, the O's will play 40 of 74 second-half games vs. AL East foes. That is a tough schedule.

v. AL East: 13-19 record, 40 games left.
v. AL Central: 8-5 record, 24 games left.
v. AL West: 8-17 record, 10 games left.
v. NL: 11-7 record, 0 games left.

O's hitters, month of July:
Andino: 3-24/0/1
Huff: 6-41/1/4
Izturis: 1-5/0/0
Jones: 12-41/0/3
Markakis:10-44/0/7
Mora: 7-32/1/2
Pie: 1-5/0/1
Reimold: 4-36/0/3
Roberts: 9-39/1/6
Salazar: 3-7/1/1
Scott: 12-35/4/12
Wieters: 7-23/1/3
Wigginton: 6-30/1/4
Zaun: 2-12/0/0

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