O’s game blog: The series with Miami begins

After one day off the Orioles get back on the field tonight. Their opponent, the Miami Marlins, have had eight days off. Their season was paused after their team was hit hard by COVID-19, which impacted 18 players and two coaches.

Playing for the first time since Sunday, July 26, the Marlins (2-1) begin a four-game, three-day series versus the Orioles (5-3). Miami won two of three in its season-opening series at Philly, posting wins by 5-2 on opening day and 11-6 in the third game, around a second-game loss by a 7-1 score.

They have added seven relief pitchers in the last week, including Richard Bleier from the Orioles. They also added lefty Brian Moran, the nephew of former Oriole B.J. Surhoff. From their alternate camp they added three outfielders, two infielders, a catcher and three right-handed pitchers.

Can they knock off some rust and knock off an Orioles team coming off its first series sweep since August 2018? The Orioles swept Tampa Bay over the weekend by 6-3, 5-4 in 11 innings and 5-1.

The O’s starting pitchers worked to a 2.51 ERA over the weekend while their bullpen pitched to a1.23 ERA. Since allowing nine runs at Boston in the season opener, the O’s bullpen has a2.78 ERA the past seven games.

John-Means-Walks-Away-White-Sidebar.jpgLeft-hander John Means (0-0, 19.29 ERA) is set to make his second start tonight. He gave up five runs and two hits in 2 1/3 innings last Thursday night at Oriole Park against the Yankees. He allowed all five runs in the first inning when he hit two batters and gave up a grand slam to Luke Voit. Means threw 51 pitches, 30 strikes.

His velocity was up in that outing. According brooksbaseball.net, last year his average four-seam fastball was 92.16 mph and last week it was 95.71. His changeup speed also increased from 81.2 to 84.4 mph.

In 19 career games in Baltimore, Means is 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA and 0.986 WHIP. He’s allowed 1.1 homers per nine innings in those games. Opponents have batted .207/.255/.364 against him in those games with a .619 OPS. In three career interleague games he is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA and 1.568 WHIP.

Right-hander Pablo López gets the start for Miami in his season debut. In 2019, López went 5-8 with a 5.09 ERA over 21 games. In 111 1/3 innings he allowed 111 hits with 27 walks and 95 strikeouts. He recorded a 1.240 WHIP, allowing 1.2 homers per nine with 2.2 walks and 7.7 strikeouts.

He has strong splits favoring Orioles’ lefty batters tonight. Last year the 24-year-old from Venezuela allowed a batting average against of .303 and an .879 OPS versus lefty batters. Those numbers were .217/.625 against right-handed hitters. He was also much worse on the road. In 2019 home games at Marlins Park he went 3-3 with a 3.39 ERA. But on the road he was 2-5 with a 7.36 ERA in 10 starts. In 47 2/3 road innings he allowed 58 hits and 11 homers (2.08 per nine) along with a .299 batting average and .896 OPS against.

In the first inning last year he posted a 7.29 ERA and OPS against of .947. In the second inning that ERA dropped dramatically to 0.86 and OPS to .428. López has never faced the Orioles. In two career interleague games he is 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA, allowing 10 hits in 12 1/3.

The Orioles rank third in the American League and sixth in the majors with a .783 team OPS. Infielder Hanser Alberto (1.145) ranks sixth in OPS in the AL and third baseman Rio Ruiz (1.112) ranks seventh in the league.

Alberto is tied for the ;major league lead with three games of and he ranks tied for second in multi-hit games, tied for third in hits, and fourth in batting average at .429. He is batting .368 when leading off or hitting second in the lineup since the start of 2019.

The Orioles will be the home team for the first two games of this series in Baltimore and the Marlins for the last two. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, for statistical purposes, the home team is determined by whose grounds the game is played on. Therefore, even though the Marlins will bat last in two games of this series, the O’s and Oriole Park will be the home club for statistical splits and purposes.

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