With the All-Star break mercifully behind us, the Orioles begin the second-half of the season tonight by returning to the site of 2012′s greatest joy, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Orioles and Rangers split a four-game series last week in Baltimore, and the Rangers went into the All-Star break by losing two of three to the Tigers in Detroit.
Of the four starters the Rangers threw against the Orioles last week, three will pitch over the course of this weekend. The first is tonight’s starter, Derek Holland. Holland gave up three earned runs over 6.2 innings in the opener of that series. He was forced to throw 125 pitches, but was the benefactor of eight runs of support from his offense. Holland made one more start between then and the All-Star break, going seven strong innings and limiting the mighty Tigers offense to just a run on five hits, despite walking five men.
After struggling in the month of June, Holland has made a quality start in three of his last four appearances for the Rangers, the only non-quality start having come last week against the Orioles. A number of Orioles have good career numbers against the southpaw, including Nick Markakis, who is hitting .333 with 3 RBI’s. Matt Wieters is the only Oriole to have homered against Holland, despite that being his only hit against him in twelve career at-bats. Nate McLouth and Manny Machado also have an RBI against Holland, with three hits in seven career at-bats for both of them.
Meanwhile, the Orioles will look to Wei-Yin Chen to get them started on the right foot for the second half of 2013. Chen pitched against the Rangers last week in his return from the disabled list, giving up just one run over seven innings and striking out four. The Orioles southpaw has proven himself as one of the most consistent starters in the rotation, and will lead that rotation along with Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman for the rest of the season. Those other two starters will round out the Orioles probables for the rest of the weekend in Texas.
Chen had success in his start last year against the Rangers as well, going 7.2 innings, surrendering just one earned run. Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski is the only hitter on the team to have more than one career hit off of Chen, having just missed a two-run home run against him in last week’s game. Other than Pierzynski, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, and Ian Kinsler all have a single hit off of Chen.
On the offensive side of things, the Orioles called up OF Henry Urrutia, who was hitting .365 with 7 combined home runs in Bowie and Norfolk this year. Urrutia isn’t known for his defense, so he is expected to be exclusively a DH. Also coming up from Triple-A will be Danny Valencia, who hit four home runs in his first stint in Baltimore. Valencia, who is hitting .282 against lefties compared to .136 against righties, will be used mostly off the bench.
With some additional offensive explosion, the Orioles are priming themselves for a stretch run which will decide the fate of their attempt to play in October in consecutive seasons.