The Orioles are back home tonight, where they’ve compiled a 16-17 record this season, compared to 23-18 on the road.
Steve Pearce is assured of staying in the lineup against White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who’s held left-handed hitters to a .194 career average.
It doesn’t matter whether the opposing pitcher is left-handed, right-handed, throws with his feet or rolls the ball off his tongue. Pearce is playing.
Pearce has collected two hits in each of the last five games to push his average to .339. A role player? Not unless the role is to keep mashing at the plate.
“I’m trying to be as complimentary as possible as I can about Steve,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He’s been solid for us. A lot of guys 28-32 figure it out and he kind of knows who he is and who he’s not. A lot of guys, you put them in that come-to-the-rescue mode and they’re really good. And also, do you want to really stretch it out and say, ‘Boy, maybe we found something here. Let’s play him every day,’ and then all of a sudden the waters part and a different guy shows up? I’m not so sure Stevie’s not getting on the other side of that.”
Pearce is batting .429 (18-for-42) with five doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in his 12 games since June 6.
“A lot of Steve’s mentality, this guy, whatever happened yesterday, whatever happened that last at-bat, whatever happened the last pitch, is a distant memory after it happens. And that’s a real good trait to have,” Showalter said. “He’s slashing and whacking. I don’t know by the way he plays if he can stay healthy, but there’s only one way to find out, right?
“He’s got a couple little nagging issues like everybody does right now that you have to watch. One, his wrists, because of how many swings he takes. Donnie (Mattingly’s) back was because of how many swings he took every day, but that’s who he was.”
Nick Markakis is now batting .403 with three doubles and six runs scored in the first inning this season. Seems pretty obvious that he should continue leading off and Pearce should stay in the second slot.
Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA in seven home starts this season. He’s 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA in three career starts against the White Sox, allowing five earned runs, walking three and striking out 20 in 17 1/3 innings. He’s registered a quality start in each game.
Chen faced Chicago once last season on Sept. 7 and didn’t get the decision after allowing two earned runs and six hits in six innings in the Orioles’ 4-3 win. He walked two and struck out eight.
Paul Konerko is 3-for-7 against Chen. Dayan Viciedo is 2-for-6 with a double and home run.
Chen is 7-2 with a 3.78 ERA in 14 starts this season. Not a whole lot of buzz surrounding him in baseball for a guy with seven wins in nine decisions and an ERA under 4.00.
In Chen’s last three outings, he’s registered three quality starts while permitting five runs over 20 innings, with only one walk and 14 strikeouts. He’s walked two batters in his last six starts and hasn’t lost since May 3 in Minnesota.
The knock on Chen is he doesn’t routinely pitch deep into games. He’s completed seven innings once in his last seven starts and has failed to complete six innings in seven outings this season.
Sale is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in seven career games (one start) against the Orioles, and 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in four games (one start) at Camden Yards.
Delmon Young is 2-for-9 with a double and home run off Sale. Markakis is 2-for-5.
The only way Young can get in the lineup tonight is if Pearce starts at first base and Chris Davis sits against a lefty.