O’s hitters get set to challenge Pineda and Hernandez

Whether Orioles manager Buck Showalter makes subtle changes, major changes or no changes to his lineup today, the Orioles will for sure see some tough pitching in the next two games.

Tonight, the Orioles are due to face Seattle’s Michael Pineda, the 22-year-old rookie right-hander that is gaining attention with his blazing fastball and impressive stats.

Then, Wednesday night, they face the reigning American League Cy Young winner in Felix Hernandez.

Doesn’t sound like a formula to get out of a batting slump that has seen the club score three runs or fewer in six of the last seven games and 18 times on the season. The Orioles are 2-16 in those games.

The Orioles have scored just eight runs during their four-game losing streak and hit just .176 in the weekend series versus Tampa, going 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position.

Pineda, the young man from the Dominican Republic that can hit the high 90s with his fastball, gave up four runs over seven innings in his last start against Texas - and that was his worst outing of this season.

He went 4-0 with an ERA of 1.42 over his previous four starts with 26 strikeouts. In 38 1/3 innings on the season, he has given up just 29 hits with 12 walks to 39 strikeouts and a .210 average against. Right-handed batters hit just .178 against him with 24 strikeouts in 73 at-bats. Lefty hitters bat .246 against Pineda.

King Felix has given up two earned runs or less in seven of his eight starts and is 4-2 with an ERA of 3.08 on the season. Over his past four starts, he is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.82.

Last year, when he won the AL’s top pitching award going 13-12 with an ERA of 2.27, he gave up just one earned run in 16 innings to the Orioles. He is 5-3 over 12 career starts with 3.22 lifetime ERA versus Baltimore. The Orioles have actually hit .294 off him and that is better than most have done against Hernandez.

It’s sure been a challenge for O’s hitters to get much going this year. As they try to break out of a team-wide slump, now comes the challenge of facing two of the AL’s best young right-handers back-to-back.

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