Monday, May 23, 2005

W's and O's 

Looks like we are coming to Baltimore at just the right time. The Mariners have won two in a row, and the Orioles are starting to struggle, having lost three of four to the Phillies and Royals, and given up 7 or more runs in 4 of their last six games. Here's a look at the pitching matchups coming up in this series.

It starts tomorrow as Joel Pineiro returns from his rehabilitation in parts unknown to face Bruce Chen and his surprising 5-2 start. Chen has been good for 6 innings and 3-4 runs each time out, with two very good starts mixed in. Pineiro has pitched poorly all year, with 6 starts giving up 3, 4, 4, 5, 6 and 6 runs, but he has at least eaten 7 innings or more in 4 of his 6 starts. We know what Joel is capable of, and a good start by Pineiro could lead to a great three-game set with the O's.

Game two features Rodrigo Lopez against Jamie Moyer in a battle of changeup masters. Lopez' fastball may reach Sele-esque 88 MPH on a good day, and like Moyer he relies on location and change of speeds. This is a battle of two pitchers whose season's started out great, but who have slumped since. After four games, Lopez sported a 2-1 record and a 1.91 ERA going 6+ in each of his four starts. Since then, he has an ERA of 8.00 spanning five starts, including two against the Royals. Moyer's story is similar, as he had a 4-0 record and 2.53 ERA after five starts, but in his last four starts, he has given up 23 runs in 14 innings. Ouch. The good news is that Moyer owns the Orioles to the tune of a 2.01 ERA against them in 50 innings over the last three years. This is where Jamie gets it turned around.

The final game in Baltimore sends Ryan Franklin to do battle with 23 year old Daniel Cabrera. Daniel is a fastball/curveball pitcher with a mid-90s heater and a sharp-breaking curve. The package is volatile as Cabrera averages about a strikeout per inning, and five walks a game. Cabrera has gotten out of the fifth inning in just half his starts en route to a 5.91 ERA. But he has been better in May, with three darned good starts before failing to get out of the 4th inning in his last start against the Phillies. Franklin got off to a hot start this year before getting shellacked in Texas. Since then, two bad starts (5 walks and 5 runs in each) sandwiched around two great starts against Boston. Franklin is currently second in the best in the AL in batting average against with a stingy .215 mark. This game seems to belong to the pitcher with the best control.

This is a big series for the 2005 Mariners. Big starts from Pineiro and Moyer could go a long way toward righting the good ship Mariner. A series win could propeacl them on a nice run with 6 games with Tampa and 3 with Toronto coming up next. Meanwhile, the Angels will be playing 9 of their next 12 against Sox of various hue and without Vlad or KRod. Great time to pickup some ground.

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