BALTIMORE — The Oakland A’s and the Baltimore Orioles enter their three-game series on Tuesday at Camden Yards headed in different directions.
Oakland (87-57) has won four in a row, coming off a weekend sweep of Texas at home. The A’s are in good shape for the playoffs, just 2 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros in the American League West and having, at the least, locked up a wild-card spot.
But Oakland remains just 2 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees for the first of the two wild-card spots. So with 18 games left, the A’s still have plenty to play for. The big key for Oakland, as it was in a victory over Texas on Sunday, is the team has been finding help in so many ways.
That’s one reason the A’s have had such a great season so far.
“You get these contributions from so many guys,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told the media. “It’s pretty cool when everybody in that clubhouse is contributing to it.”
In the A’s 7-3 win over Texas, Stephen Piscotty hit his 23rd homer, and Shawn Kelley, who has been helping the bullpen since the A’s picked him up from Washington, got the win in relief.
The Oakland lineup features five players with more than 20 home runs — led by Khris Davis (41 homers, 108 RBIs). The team can hurt an opponent in so many ways.
Baltimore, however, is going in a completely different direction.
The Orioles held a massive fire sale and got rid of a number of high-priced veterans in July as the first step in a major rebuilding project that leaves many questions unanswered. Baltimore has been fielding a very young and inexperienced lineup in recent days as management is trying to get a look at what they’ve got.
It’s a big reason the Orioles have not played well for various stretches since all of the trades while hitting better. But they are coming off Tampa Bay beating them in three straight games in a series this past weekend in Florida.
Overall, Baltimore went 1-8 on that road trip and now sits at 41-102, the worst record in the major leagues. The younger players keep making mental and physical mistakes.
“We’ll meet Tuesday and go over a lot of game mistakes and see if we can keep from repeating them,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the media after Sunday’s loss in Tampa Bay. “We did a lot of things young players do.”
The Orioles will send Alex Cobb (5-15, 4.97 ERA) to the mound against the A’s Mike Fiers (11-6, 3.36). Cobb has been dealing with a blister issue and hasn’t pitched since Sept. 4.
Despite the record, Cobb has been strong for the Orioles since the All-Star break. He has gone 3-1 since Aug. 1 and has pitched much better than earlier in the season. Cobb is 4-3 with a 2.25 career ERA versus Oakland.
Fiers starts for the A’s. He is 11-6 with a 3.36 ERA but has pitched well since coming to Oakland in an August trade with the Tigers.
Fiers is 4-0 with a 2.94 ERA in six Oakland starts and has given the A’s a needed boost. He has a 2-1 record and a 2.25 career ERA against Baltimore.