Thursday night features an American League battle of east versus central as the Baltimore Orioles (31-39) take on the Chicago White Sox (33-34). The White Sox will host this one at Guaranteed Rate Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:10 pm ET.
Coming into play Thursday, the Orioles split their last series with the Washington Nationals as each team won one game. On Wednesday, the Orioles won the finale 7-0 in a rain-shortened game.
Despite only playing six innings, Austin Hays hit for the cycle and went four for four with three runs batted in and three runs scored. Anthony Santander and Trey Mancini also homered in the win.
After winning the first two games of the series, the White Sox dropped the finale to the Toronto Blue Jays 9-5. In the loss, Lucas Giolito was roughed up, going just five innings and allowing seven runs on 11 hits.
Offensively, Andrew Vaughn went three for five, and the team as a whole managed 13 hits. The biggest problem for Chicago was that they left 27 runners stranded on base.
The White Sox are the favorites in this one playing at home. They are -162 to win while the Orioles’ moneyline sits at +136. The runline features Baltimore +1.5 (-150), and the over/under for total runs is nine.
Orioles Trying To Stay Relevant
Usually, by this time in the season, the Baltimore Orioles are written off as having no hope to make the playoffs, but this year’s version of the team is trying to stay relevant. At 31-39, they sit a whopping 20.5 games out of first in their division, but they only sit seven games back of the last Wild Card spot.
While it still might be unrealistic to assume that the O’s could pull off a playoff spot this season, they have shown signs of progression in their rebuild and are playing teams much more competitively this season.
Taking the mound for Baltimore in the opener is 26-year-old righty Dean Kremer. In three games, he is 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and has ten strikeouts in 15.1 innings.
He took a no-decision in his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays despite throwing six scoreless innings, striking out five, and allowing just five hits.
Offensively, Austin Hays has put together a nice season. In addition to hitting for the cycle Wednesday night, he is hitting .287/.347/.482 this season with ten home runs, 40 runs batted in, and has 37 runs scored. He leads the team in runs batted in and runs scored.
This will be the first time that anyone on the Orioles has squared off with Chicago’s Johnny Cueto.
Injuries Catching Up With White Sox
In terms of health, this has been a dreadful season for the Chicago White Sox. Already dealing with injuries to players like Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Liam Hendricks, and others, things didn’t get any better in their last game Wednesday.
In fact, during the game, Luis Robert left the game with a leg injury and is considered day-to-day, but it is doubtful he plays Thursday. Furthermore, Danny Mendick was getting an MRI Wednesday night after leaving the game with a knee injury.
Still, the show must go on, and the White Sox, who sit 4.5 games back in the AL Central, will try to start off their series against the Orioles with a win.
To do so, they will send 36-year-old veteran Johnny Cueto to the bump. He has been excellent in seven games. Despite a 1-3 record, he has a 2.95 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and has 33 strikeouts in 42.2 innings.
He picked up the win in his last start against the Astros, going seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out five.
On the offensive side, Andrew Vaughn has been one of the White Sox’s most productive hitters. In 192 at bats, he is hitting .333/.382/.505 with seven home runs, 31 runs batted in, and 23 runs scored.
Jose Abreu has also had a good start to the season, hitting .262/.363/.431 with a team-leading nine home runs and 37 runs scored. He also has 32 runs batted in.
Take Baltimore On The Runline
It is true that Baltimore has largely been a losing franchise over the last decade or so, and they have struggled at Guaranteed Rate Field, going winless in their last five games.
Still, this is a different feeling. The Orioles team and the White Sox are a shell of what they could be due to injuries.
If Johnny Cueto pitches the way that he did against the Astros in his last start, it could be a long day for Baltimore. However, Dean Kremer has also been brilliant at times, and the Orioles have shown they are capable of putting up runs.
It may be a stretch to take the Orioles winning this one outright, but it is not unfathomable to think they could keep it close. Take Baltimore at +1.5 on the runline (-150).