Orioles to go for sweep behind strong road arm of Tillman

July 21, 2013 | Max Buchdahl

Behind Miguel Gonzalez’s eighth consecutive quality start, the Orioles won last night, 7-4, and have an opportunity tonight to complete their first road sweep of the season. The Rangers will send southpaw Martin Perez to the hill, while the Orioles will counter with Chris Tillman.

Perez gave the Orioles offense a fit back on July 9 in Baltimore when he went six innings, giving up just two earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts. He didn’t have quite the same success in his next start, however, surrendering five runs on three home runs and walking three in a loss to the Tigers.

Nate McLouth was the only Orioles hitter to have multiple hits off of Perez in the loss a few weeks ago, singling twice off the lefty. McLouth will lead off in tonight’s game for the Orioles. Manny Machado ripped a solo home run against Perez that, according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, would have been just warning track power at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers southpaw has been especially effective at home this season, allowing no runs in his two starts in Arlington.

If there is one sure kryptonite in Perez’s game, it’s his inability to go deep into games. The Rangers coaching staff seems uncomfortable giving him a long leash. His 99 pitches against the Orioles is the most he’s thrown in any start. He has reached the seventh inning just twice, and only once has completed it. Orioles hitters will try and work deep counts to give Perez an early exit and get to the Rangers bullpen.

With Perez on the hill, the Orioles will go with the newest edition of their lineup versus left-handed pitchers, Danny Valencia as the designated hitter.

Tonight, Chris Tillman will be making his first start since July 12, when he worked six innings to beat the Blue Jays. Tillman was the only Orioles pitcher not to make a start when the Rangers visited Baltimore before the All-Star break. He faced them last year, however, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings and getting the win.

Rangers hitters are hitting just .261 with a .320 OBP against Tillman, although Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Geovany Soto each have a home run against the Orioles righty.

Tillman has especially been dominant on the road this season, despite losing his previous road start, in the Bronx against the Yankees. He has a 6-1  record with a 3.40 ERA in eight starts on the road, and has won his two career starts in Arlington. In those two starts, he’s given up a total of just four runs on eight hits.

The closest the Orioles have come to a road sweep this year was in Oakland back at the end of April, but suffered a heart-breaking loss in the series finale. The team would love to kick off the second half of the season with a sweep against a team like Texas at their home stadium. Tonight provides an outstanding opportunity for the birds to set a precedent for how the rest of the season will go.