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Oakland A's at Baltimore Orioles series preview: Manny Machado is great, and other tales from Birdland

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The Athletics (13-16) visit the Orioles (16-11) for three games at Camden Yards.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles are off to a 16-11 start, including an 11-4 record at Camden Yards. They're coming off a series win against the New York Yankees, including Thursday night's extra innings 1-0 walk off win. The Orioles offense is 2nd in the AL in wRC+ (112), hitting .265/.326/.440. Their 36 home runs is good for third in the AL, the .326 on base percentage second best.

Sometimes I wonder what it's like to have at least one qualified batter producing at least 12 percent better than the league. The Baltimore Orioles have three with more than 100 plate appearances.

That offense is led by Manny Machado, who is hitting .342/.397/.649 with seven home runs, a 192 wRC+. Second is Mark Trumbo with a 168 wRC+ and eight home runs. Third is Chris Davis, who has seven home runs, but is only hitting .210/.325/.440 (113 wRC+).

The Orioles really only have one platoon, switching off Nolan Reimold and Pedro Alvarez. Reimold and his .333/.366/.641 (182 wRC+) batting line in 41 plate appearances will bat sixth against Rich Hill on Friday. The A's should see Alvarez against Oakland's right-handers for the weekend games, he's hitting .196/.303/.321 (71 wRC+) in 66 plate appearances.

Baltimore will have to go without J.J. Hardy for awhile after he went on the disabled list with a left foot fracture incurred after fouling a ball off his foot on May 1. Manny Machado is taking over shortstop for now while Ryan Flaherty was recalled to start at third base. Flaherty is hitting .222/.300/.222 (32 wRC+) in 20 plate appearances.

Pitching matchups and broadcast schedule

Friday's postponement smooshes together the pitching probables, but no change in the order of the pitchers.

Time (PT) TV Oakland Baltimore
Sat. Game 1 10:05 AM CSNCA LHP Rich Hill (3-3, 2.53) RHP Mike Wright (1-2, 5.18)
Sat. Game 2 4:05 PM CSNCA RHP Jesse Hahn (1-0, 0.00) RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (1-3, 5.20)
Sun. 10:35 AM CSNCA RHP Kendall Graveman (1-3, 4.40) RHP Chris Tillman (3-1, 2.81)

If Baltimore has a weakness, it is in a pitching staff that has put up a 4.31 ERA and is averaging just over five innings a start. The A's will face two struggling members of their rotation first before facing staff ace Chris Tillman on Sunday. And yes, they're all right-handers.

Saturday Game 1 vs. Mike Wright

Mike Wright's trouble has been long balls. It's always (in his two seasons) been long balls. He has given up three in his four starts, and gave up nine in 44 2/3 innings last year. Wright is coming off his best start on April 29, pitching six innings and giving up two runs against the White Sox.

Wright is another of Baltimore's five-pitch pitchers, offering a four-seam, two-seam, slide, changeup, and curveball.

Saturday Game 2 vs. Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez's trouble has been walks. It's always been walks. He has given up 29 free passes so far in his five starts, the 4.9 BB/9 rate above his career 4.1 BB/9. He's coming off a 4 2/3 innings outing against the White Sox where he conceded six runs on four walks, seven hits, and one home run with three strikeouts.

The A's will have to deal with the groundballs Jimenez tends to produce with his splitter and two-seamer. He's also got a slider and curveball to make hitters think.

Sunday vs. Chris Tillman

Chris Tillman is not in any trouble whatsoever. He's allowed just 12 walks and one home run and struck out 33 in six starts. He had one stinker of a start on April 14 in Texas, allowing six runs on nine hits and one walk. In his last start on May 3, Tillman struck out nine and walked four in seven innings, giving up one run.

Tillman's five pitches are his fastball, changeup, knuckle curve, slider, and cutter.

Bullpen

Like the A's bullpen, Baltimore's has acquitted itself well despite spotty performance from the starting rotation. Their 2.45 bullpen ERA is 3rd in the AL, and their 0.39 HR/9 is second best in the AL as well.

Zach Britton is 6-for-6 in save opportunities, with matchup partner Darren O'Day 2-for-3.

A's bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 5-May 4-May 3-May 2-May 1-May 30-Apr
Ryan Madson R 13.2 1.32 2.35
O
F
F

D
A
Y
19 28
Sean Doolittle L 12.1 4.38 5.67 20 14
John Axford R 14.0 1.29 3.01 32 13
Ryan Dull R 15.0 3.00 3.41 14 2
Fernando Rodriguez R 17.1 1.04 2.39 12 28
Marc Rzepczynski L 11.0 1.64 3.53 5 8 15
Liam Hendriks R 14.2 7.36 2.81 31 14
Orioles bullpen Recent usage (pitch count from www.rosterresource.com)
Player Hand IP ERA FIP 5-May 4-May 3-May 2-May 1-May 30-Apr
Zach Britton L 11.1 2.38 2.20 23
O
F
F

D
A
Y
Darren O'Day R 11.1 2.38 2.46 11 9 21
Brad Brach R 15.1 1.17 2.95 20
Mychal Givens R 12.0 3.00 2.66 23
Brian Matusz L 2.1 7.71 8.22 26 7
Dylan Bundy R 10.0 2.70 4.28 25
T.J. McFarland L 13.1 4.73 3.38 27
Vance Worley R 17.2 0.00 2.51 51 15