***Join us in the Orange Crush live chat beginning at 7:00 as the Orioles host the Tigers in the finale of a three-game set at Camden Yards***
BALTIMORE — Coming off their first loss of the season in a 7-3 defeat at the hands of Detroit ace Justin Verlander, the 4-1 Orioles go for the series victory with Chris Tillman hoping to build upon his impressive debut in Tampa Bay last Saturday.
The 22-year-old held the punchless Rays without a hit for six innings before being lifted after throwing 101 pitches in the eventual 3-1 victory for the Orioles. Tillman will be opposed by veteran Brad Penny, who signed with the Tigers after an injury-shortened season with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010.
Tillman still struggles with his command of the four-seam fastball, leaving it up in the strike zone far too often — including his start against the Rays, according to the pitcher — and has not shown the velocity scouts raved about during his climb up the farm system chain. He continues to work with a two-seamer to generate more movement, but did not throw it very much in his six-inning stint on Saturday.
As for Penny, he is beginning his second stint in the American League after spending a season with Boston in 2009 in which he went 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA. At 33 years old, Penny fits the description of a National League pitcher who could be overmatched against AL hitters. His first start of the season seemed to confirm that opinion as Penny surrendered eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Yankees in the Bronx on Saturday.
Despite the 4-1 start, the Baltimore lineup continues to struggle in the opening week of the season, entering the day 13th in the American League in on-base percentage (.253) and has just 11 extra-base hits in five games. With the powerful Texas Rangers and New York Yankees looming next on the schedule and the Orioles relying on an undermanned starting rotation, the bats need to heat up soon if the positive early-season vibes are to continue.
Tonight seems as good a night as any to break out with the veteran Penny on the mound for the Tigers.
In other news, Jeremy Guthrie is back at the ballpark and will throw a bullpen session tomorrow to determine whether he makes the start on Sunday against the Rangers. Guthrie was hospitalized with pneumonia earlier this week.
Despite not being in the original lineup posted by Buck Showalter, left fielder Luke Scott returns to the lineup tonight after missing the last three games with a groin injury. He will hit fifth behind Vladimir Guerrero.
Here are tonight’s starting lineups:
CF Austin Jackson
2B Will Rhymes
RF Brennan Boesch
1B Miguel Cabrera
DH Victor Martinez
3B Don Kelly
LF Ryan Raburn
C Alex Avila
SS Ramon Santiago
SP Brad Penny (0-1, 16.62 ERA)
2B Brian Roberts
RF Nick Markakis
1B Derrek Lee
RF Vladimir Guerrero
LF Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
3B Mark Reynolds
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
SP Chris Tillman (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
As we do for every weeknight home game, the Orange Crush live chat will be open for business as the Orioles try to take their second straight series of the season. Talk about the game with us as an array of WNST.net personalities visit the cyber sports bar throughout the night! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis from Oriole Park at Camden Yards!