By Sam Bush
The Phillies are taking their 23-16 record — good enough for second place in the NL East behind the Braves — out for a spin down in Baltimore starting tonight.
And don’t be fooled by the Orioles’ 13-28 record.
They are enjoying their best stretch of the season even though they remain in last place in the American League East, and they have won five of their past six games. Baltimore is also coming off consecutive series wins for the first time this year.
The offense has been the catalyst for the recent surge. The Orioles have scored 58 runs in their last seven games.
“It’s like I said quite a few times to them in advance meetings and stuff, somebody’s going to pay,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Good pitching staff over there and we’ve been on the other side of that some, OK? The old expression, ‘God would never give me more than I could handle, but I wish he didn’t have so much confidence in me.’ We’ve had some points like that this year.
“I started looking at the board today and little by little some of the … just batting averages, you look up there and there’s not as many 1s starting as there had been. That’s a good sign. I don’t know about feeding off each other. There were a lot of base hits the other way, too.”
The Phillies have been impressive and also won five of their past six games.
“It’s directly attributable to our baseball players,” Kapler said about the early season success. “The guys on the field do the work. They’re the ones who deserve to be highlighted when things go well. And they’re just doing a good job.”
Andrew Cashner (1-4, 4.84 ERA) will start the opener for Baltimore. He is looking for his first win since April 5.
Cashner is 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 13 career games (seven starts) against the Phillies.
“I think for us right now, it’s just win each day,” Cashner said. “It’s just all we can do right now, and hopefully, that’ll lead into some things.”
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (2-2, 4.15) will face the Orioles for the first time in his young career. Pivetta picked up a win in his last outing on May 9 against San Francisco when he threw five scoreless innings with four hits, seven strikeouts and no walks.
The Orioles could get a boost with their bullpen with return of right-hander Darren O’Day (hyperextended right elbow). He could be activated from the DL for the series finale Wednesday.
The Phils’ bullpen session is a bit unsettled.
Hector Neris started the season as the closer. However, his recent struggles have opened the door for Edubray Ramos, who posted his first save of the season Sunday against the Mets. Norris entered the week tied for seventh in the National League with eight saves.
“We’ve said that we’re going to use the best option given what’s up in that spot,” Kapler said. “Sometimes that’s going to be Hector. Sometimes it’s going to be Ramos. Sometimes it’s going to be others.”