The Baltimore Orioles have already assured themselves of a winning record on their seven-game road trip.
Becoming the first team this season to win a series at Kauffman Stadium would allow them to head home as a .500 club overall.
The Orioles aim for their seventh victory in 10 games Thursday afternoon when they wrap up their series against the Kansas City Royals.
Inconsistency has been a constant for the Orioles (14-15) in this season’s early stages. They opened with six wins in seven games before an eight-game losing streak erased any momentum created by the fast start. Baltimore has since rebounded to win six of nine to get within one victory of the break-even mark.
After winning three of four in Chicago, the Orioles have split the first two games of this series, holding on for a 3-2 victory Wednesday. Nick Markakis(notes) homered and Jake Arrieta(notes) pitched seven strong innings to help Baltimore end Kansas City’s season high-tying four-game win streak.
“He’ll be somewhere else (Thursday),” manager Buck Showalter told the Orioles’ official website. “That’s just how the batting order shaped up. We know he’s capable of better. He’ll be fine, he’ll be hitting.”
Baltimore, which had lost five in a row to the Royals, earned its seventh road win, six weeks earlier than last year.
The Royals dropped to 13-6 at home, but remain tied with Cleveland for the most home wins in the majors.
Strong starting pitching has been the biggest reason for Baltimore’s improved play. Orioles starters are 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA in the past nine games, and Thursday’s probable starter Chris Tillman(notes) pitched effectively in his only appearance during that run.
Tillman (1-2, 5.25 ERA) will try to win back-to-back starts for the first time in his career after beating Chicago 6-2 on Saturday. The third-year right-hander limited the White Sox to one run and six hits over five-plus innings in his second straight solid outing after struggling in his previous two.
Tillman did not receive a decision in his only start against the Royals on July 29, 2009, after yielding three runs and seven hits over 4 2-3 innings in a 7-3 victory.
Bruce Chen(notes) (3-1, 4.04) looks to get back into the win column for Kansas City and recapture his early-season form. Since beginning the season 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA, Chen has allowed nine runs and 15 hits in his last two starts spanning 9 2-3 innings. He was in line for his second straight loss Friday against Minnesota before the Royals scored twice in the eighth en route to a 4-3 victory.
The veteran left-hander, who pitched for the Orioles from 2004-06, is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against them since leaving Baltimore.