Baltimore takes a five-game winning streak into a four-game series with dawdling Detroit at Camden Yards, beginning Thursday night. Is handicapping this series as simple as backing the hot team against the cold one?
Tigers-Orioles Thursday Odds
In the very early betting the best line we could find on Baltimore and Miguel Gonzalez was the -153 offered at 5Dimes, while Detroit and Alfredo Simon could be bet getting +145 at Heritage. And every book on our MLB odds board listed a total on Thursday's game of nine runs.
Baltimore just swept three games at home from Atlanta, winning Wednesday 2-0. So the O's are 3-1 over their last four series, 6-4 over their last 10 games.
At 51-49 the Orioles sit 6.5 games back of the first-place Yankees in the AL East, but have pulled to within just one game of Minnesota in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
Detroit just dropped two of three games at Tampa this week, avoiding the sweep with a 2-1 victory Wednesday, as Justin Verlander picked up his first win of the year. So the Tigers are 0-4-1 in their last five series, and 5-11 over their last 16 games.
At 49-52 the closest Detroit is to a playoff spot is the seven games they trail the Twins by.
This is the second series between these teams this season; two weeks ago the O's took two of three games at Comerica Park, with the OVERS going 2-1.
Thursday's Pitching Match-Up
Gonzalez (9-6, 3.99) is only six-for-18 on quality starts this season, and one for his last three. Last Friday he held Tampa to one run through 7 2/3 innings, but over his last six starts he's allowed at least four runs in half of them. On the season Gonzalez has allowed fewer hits, 98, than innings pitched, 106, but 18 of those hits have left the yard.
Baltimore is 11-7 in games Gonzalez has started, with the totals splitting 9-9.
Over four career starts against Detroit, none of which we'd call “quality,” Gonzalez has given up 17 runs through 20 innings; the Orioles managed to split those four games, with the OVERS going 3-1.
Simon (9-6, 4.46) is eight-for-19 on quality starts, but just one for his last seven. Last Sunday he held Boston to one run through six innings, but prior to that Simon had allowed at least four runs in six straight starts. On the season the former Oriole has allowed 123 hits through 111 innings, walked 39 and struck out 82.
The Tigers are 11-8 in Simon's starts, with the totals going 10-8.
This will be Simon's first-ever start against Baltimore, the team he broke into the Bigs with.
Thursday's Batting Splits
Detroit ranks second in the Majors against right-handed pitching this season with a .275 team batting average, and second with a .329 team on-base percentage. However, both those numbers have decreased slightly over the last week or so, and we're thinking the absence of Miguel Cabrera might have something to do with that.
Baltimore, meanwhile, ranks 18th against righties with a .252 average and 20th with a .310 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
The UNDERS are 28-21 in games played at Camden Yards this season, even though O's home games are averaging 8.7 runs per.
Detroit is without slugger Cabrera, who's on the DL with a strained calf. The Tigers offense did a good job for the first couple of weeks without him, but has been held to two or fewer runs in six of their last seven games.
Tigers-Orioles Thursday Free Picks
Baltimore is right back in the AL playoff picture, chasing down a wild-card berth; Detroit, on the other hand, looks a bit lost. So the O's have more on their side. And in our bullpens rankings we list the Orioles' among the best in baseball at the moment, the Tigers' among the worst. Also, it appears oddsmakers have been slightly over-estimating their totals at Camden Yards this year, so we're thinking UNDER with our MLB picks.