The rebuilding the Baltimore Orioles have undertaken this season couldn’t be going much better.
The surprising Orioles look to win their fifth straight and continue their domination of the National League on Saturday night when they face the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
With a young rotation and a lineup lacking star power, that winning campaign didn’t figure to come in 2008. Nearly halfway into the season, however, Baltimore is four games over .500, a record that would be good enough for the NL West lead, but is good for only fourth place in the powerful AL East.
Aubrey Huff had four hits, including two solo homers, and the Orioles’ bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings in an 8-5 victory on Friday.
Huff is batting .476 (20-for-42) with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last 10 games.
“Timing, man,” said Huff. “It comes and goes, I’m just trying to ride it out as long as I can because tomorrow it can go away just like that and that’s the way baseball is. You never know.”
Baltimore has won six of seven overall, and is 8-2 against the NL this season. That represents a huge improvement for a team that entered this year with a dismal 79-114 mark since the inception of interleague play in 1997.
The Orioles’ bullpen has compiled a 3.13 ERA this season after posting a 5.71 mark in 2007.
“Our bullpen has been unbelievable, I mean it’s totally reversed from last year,” Huff said.
Continuing their surprising success will be difficult for the Orioles unless Daniel Cabrera (5-2, 4.45 ERA) can get back on track. The right-hander was the team’s best starter for much of this season, but is 0-1 with a 6.68 ERA in his last five starts.
Improved control was the biggest reason for Cabrera’s turnaround, but he has regressed lately, walking 17 over 29 2-3 innings in those five games.
He allowed four runs, six hits and five walks in six innings against Pittsburgh on Sunday in a 5-4, 10-inning victory.
Cabrera, who is 2-9 with a 6.31 ERA in 14 interleague starts, will face the Brewers for the first time.
A former American Leaguer, Seth McClung (4-3, 3.94) starts against the Orioles for the sixth time in his career. In his first five starts - all with Tampa Bay - McClung went 3-2 with a 6.39 ERA, walking 24 in 25 1-3 innings.
The right-hander has pitched much better since moving from a long relief role into the rotation for Milwaukee, going 3-2 with a 4.23 ERA in five starts. He limited Minnesota to two runs and four hits over six innings Sunday in a 4-2 victory.
McClung has pitched six innings in each of his last three starts, giving up a total of five earned runs with 13 strikeouts against one walk.
“My mechanics have always been fine, it’s just mentally, a mindset of just really not trying to overthrow that’s gotten me where I am right now,” McClung said.