The Baltimore Orioles’ lineup has struggled against AL pitchers recently. Facing a highly touted NL prospect may not provide any relief.
Baltimore (23-35) took two of three at Washington from May 22-24 to open a 7-1 stretch. Since then, however, the Orioles have scored 20 runs and hit .217 while losing nine of 11.
They come into this series after dropping two of three to Seattle, including a 6-3 defeat on Thursday. Luke Scott(notes) hit his ninth homer since coming off the disabled list on May 27 and team-high 14th overall.
“I don’t think we’re in an offensive funk. We’ve hit balls hard,” Jones said. “I’d say luck is not on our side right now.”
Jones hopes continued success in interleague play will help him snap out of his slump. He’s batting .368 (28 for 76) in 21 games against NL opponents and was 4 for 13 with five RBIs against the Nationals last month.
Now, the Orioles will face Hanson (0-0, 9.00 ERA), who made his major league debut Sunday against Milwaukee.
Called up after the Braves cut ties with 305-game winner Tom Glavine(notes), Hanson retired the first 10 batters he faced. But he allowed seven runs and six hits— including three homers—over six innings in the 8-7 victory.
“He’s going to be a good one,” manager Bobby Cox said. “It won’t be too far off he’ll be on the National League All-Star team. … It wasn’t a great debut for him. I know he’s not satisfied at all. But he’s got stuff and he knows how to pitch.”
The 22-year-old right-hander, considered Atlanta’s best pitching prospect in a decade, believes he’ll be more relaxed Friday.
“I think it was the fact that it was the first game more than anything else,” he told the Braves’ official Web site. “I had my adrenaline going and I missed with a few pitches. I’m just going to go out there with the same game plan. I want to be just as aggressive.”
Atlanta (29-30) comes in after losing the final two contests of a four-game set with Pittsburgh. The Braves managed only five hits in a 3-1 setback Thursday, wasting a great start by Javier Vazquez(notes), who gave up one run and two hits with 12 strikeouts in eight innings.
Struggling rookie Jason Berken(notes) (1-2, 7.04) takes the mound for Baltimore. He’ll try to avoid losing a third straight after giving up nine runs and seven hits over 3 1-3 innings of a 9-4 loss at Oakland on Saturday.
The Braves have won seven of their last eight against the Orioles. This is the first time the teams are playing in Baltimore since June 25-27, 2004, when Atlanta won two of three.