If the Orioles are looking to get healthy, and not only from an injury standpoint, taking their act on the road would seem to be counterproductive. Sort of like trying to line the batter’s box under water.
Wins at any locale haven’t been plentiful, but the Orioles are 11-23 away from Camden Yards. They’re starting a three-game series tonight at Tropicana Field, with manager Buck Showalter returning to them, and they’ll fly to Toronto for three more after Monday’s off-day.
Heading into last night, only the Athletics and Phillies with nine each had fewer road wins than the Orioles. The Reds also had 11 and the Padres had 12.
What appears to be counterproductive also comes with a counterbalance. The Orioles are 21-16 in the American League East, compared to 6-14 in the Central and 0-3 in the West after being swept in Houston.
Bench coach John Russell, who filled in last night for Showalter, refused to place special emphasis on the trip beyond the usual goal of winning as many games as possible.
“I don’t know that we look at it that way, as far as you’ve got to have a strong road trip. We need to be strong at home and on the road,” he said.
“I look at it, we’ve done pretty well in our division and now we’re going to go back in our division. We know our division, we know these guys and we’ve had success against them, and I think that in itself is a little bit of a motivator. And, not a confidence-builder because Tampa’s been playing really well. Toronto’s got most of their guys back and they’ve been playing a lot better, so it’s not going to be a cake walk, by any stretch. It’s going to be tough. But we’ve played pretty well in our division. And it’s teams that we’re pretty familiar with.
“I think that adds a little bit of easiness to us because we know what we have to do to beat these guys because we’ve played them 20 times a year for the last six years. You start seeing these guys, you start knowing what they do. The preparation part of it, you have a little bit better understanding what you’re getting in to. You play a team four times and you don’t see them for three months, you go with what you see but you don’t really know them. You’ve got to go through the games and find out what they’re doing. But you’ve got a pretty good feel for your division.”
The Orioles took two of three games from the Rays at Camden Yards. This is their first trip to The Trop. They’re 7-2 against the Jays, including three wins in four games April 13-16 at Rogers Centre.
“We’ve done well in our division and I think the guys realize what we have to do,” Russell said. “I managed in the National League. The American League East is a beast. It’s tough. It’s baseball every night, it’s hard every night. I think our guys kind of rise to the occasion.”
Ubaldo Jiménez remains in the rotation after holding the Cardinals to two runs over seven innings in an 8-5 win. Jiménez faced the Rays on April 24 - the opposing starter was Chris Archer, who’s on the mound tonight - and allowed three runs and three hits with five walks in 3 1/3 innings.
Jiménez is 5-2 with a 3.47 ERA in nine career starts against the Rays, with a 1.193 WHIP in 57 innings. Colby Rasmus is 13-for-34 (.382) with six doubles, a triple, a home run and 10 strikeouts against Jiménez. Logan Morrison is 5-for-9 with two doubles and a home run.
Trevor Plouffe is 2-for-16 with a double and nine strikeouts and Dickerson is 1-for-10 with the home run.
Archer has nine quality starts in 15 outings this season, and he’s gone six or more innings in his last six starts.
Archer lasted 6 2/3 innings on April 24 and allowed five runs with five walks. He’s 3-7 with a 4.69 ERA and 1.401 WHIP in 14 career games (13 starts) versus the Orioles over 80 2/3 innings.
Jonathan Schoop is 6-for-19 (.316) with a double and three home runs against Archer. Seth Smith is 4-for-10 with three doubles, Caleb Joseph is 2-for-7 with a double and home run and Hyun Soo Kim is 2-for-5 with a home run.
Adam Jones, expected back in the lineup tonight, is 7-for-35 (.200) with a double, home run and eight strikeouts.