After a strong start, the Baltimore Orioles are desperate to get their season back on track. A series against Kansas City might do the trick.
The Orioles will be trying to shake their longest losing streak of the season and continue their recent domination of the Royals when the teams open a four-game series Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.
Baltimore (16-18) has not posted a winning record since 1997, but was an early-season surprise in 2008, starting 6-1. However, the Orioles fell under .500 for the first time on Tuesday and lost their fifth straight a day later, 6-5 in 10 innings in Oakland.
The Orioles have lost seven of eight and have played seven straight games decided by one or two runs.
“Any time the games are close you feel like you’re in it,” said Lance Cormier, who allowed Mark Ellis’ game-winning homer in the series finale against the Athletics. “Then all of a sudden stuff like this happens and it’s just a huge letdown, especially after it’s happened over and over again.”
However, the Orioles have reason to be optimistic as they head to Kansas City. Baltimore has won nine in a row against the Royals (15-18) since a 7-5 road loss on July 25, 2006.
That includes a five-game winning streak in Kansas City, where the Orioles pulled off a three-game sweep May 28-30 last season. The Orioles, 6-12 away from home this season, are wrapping up a 10-game road trip with this series.
The Royals avoided a three-game sweep on Wednesday, beating the Los Angeles Angels 9-4. David DeJesus hit a three-run homer and Alex Gordon also connected for Kansas City, as everyone in the lineup got at least one hit.
Jose Guillen went 3-for-3 with two doubles after being rested for a day because he was hitting only .165, and Mark Grudzielanek also had three hits. The offensive outburst was encouraging for a team that ranks last in the American League with 119 runs.
“It was a total team game,” DeJesus said. “(Starter) Zack (Greinke) was just throwing strikes, pounding the strike zone. Everyone did something today. We got key hits with runners on base.”
Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.86 ERA) will be hoping for similar run support in Thursday’s opener.
Hochevar, the first selection in the 2006 draft, will make his fourth start of the season since being called up from Triple-A Omaha. He yielded just two runs in six innings of Saturday’s 4-2 win at Cleveland.
“I thought he had a really good outing,” manager Trey Hillman told the Royals’ official team Web site. “I’d like to see a couple less walks (four). I thought he did a great job. He kept the ball down for the most part.”
Hochevar is making his first appearance against the Orioles.
Baltimore counters with Daniel Cabrera (2-1, 4.06), who allowed just three runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels. He has gone at least six innings in six straight starts and allowed three or fewer runs in five straight.
“This is probably the most consistent that he’s been in his career,” manager Dave Trembley told the Orioles’ official Web site.
Cabrera has fared well against the Royals in the past, going 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in six career starts against them.