Daal will look to give the Orioles another solid outing as they try to avoid getting swept by the Houston Astros in a three-game interleague series at Minute Maid Park.
In Daal’s last three starts, the Orioles have scored a total of 26 runs. On Friday, two would have been enough. The 31-year-old lefty allowed one run and seven hits over eight innings, as the Orioles jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and eventually routed the Texas Rangers 8-1.
After the game, Daal admitted that working with an early lead made him much more comfortable on the mound.
“Five runs in three innings, that gives you a better chance to win,” Daal said. “With that kind of support, a pitcher gets to relax. You make one mistake, you just go to the next guy.”
Daal made very few mistakes on Friday, striking out five and walking none. He’ll look to turn in a similar performance against the Astros, as the Orioles try to avoid getting swept for the third time this season.
On Wednesday, Houston starter Wade Miller allowed four hits over seven innings as the Astros rallied past the Orioles 6-4. Baltimore had a 3-2 lead in the seventh before Houston scored three runs on an RBI double by Craig Biggio, a run-scoring single by pinch-hitter Gregg Zaun and a wild pitch by Orioles reliever B.J. Ryan.
The Astros, who won Tuesday’s series opener 11-6, have won six of eight and have pulled into a first-place tie with the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central
STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 5 GB, AL East. Astros - 1st place (tied), NL Central.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Daal (4-5, 4.52 ERA). Daal has struggled in 24 career games against the Astros, going 1-7 with a 6.59 ERA.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Roy Oswalt (3-4, 3.29 ERA). On Saturday, Oswalt made his first start since injuring his groin on May 15, and he pitched brilliantly. He did not earn a decision despite allowing no runs and five hits through seven innings, as the Astros fell to the Cubs 1-0. The 25-year-old right-hander has never faced the Orioles.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Melvin Mora, .356 avg. and 37 runs; Tony Batista and Jay Gibbons, 9 HRs; Jeff Conine, 41 RBIs; Jerry Hairston, 14 SBs. Astros - Jeff Kent, .324 avg. and 42 RBIs; Jeff Bagwell, 11 HRs; Lance Berkman, 39 runs; Adam Everett, 6 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Orioles - 0-2; Astros - 2-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - The Orioles have reached double figures in hits in 13 of their last 14 games. … Baltimore is 24-1 when leading after eight innings. … LHP Daal is a career .196 batter (53-for-270) with two homers and 21 RBIs. Astros - 1B Bagwell is batting .524 (11-for-21) with eight RBIs in his career against Daal. … LF Berkman went 3-for-4 on Wednesday, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. … LHP Billy Wagner scored his first career run in Wednesday’s victory.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 14-15 on the road; Astros - 18-12 at home.
INJURIES: Orioles - INF Jerry Hairston (leg), 15-day DL; OF Larry Bigbie (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Lopez (oblique), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL. Astros - OF Richard Hidalgo (virus), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (forearm), 15-day DL.