BALTIMORE — Just after Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos gave General Manager Dan Duquette permission to shop certain players, the Orioles responded by sweeping the Texas Rangers in four games.

The offense came to life, scoring 34 combined runs. The pitching staff turned in three quality starts. That momentum looks to be carried, but could become a challenge to hold.

The Houston Astros come to Camden Yards owning the best record in the American League. After losing two of three to Seattle, the Astros will look for blood.

Last Meeting: In a late May series at Minute Maid Park, the Astros swept the Orioles. These three defeats became part of a seven-game losing streak. Before that stretch, the O’s sat in first place in the American League, a half game ahead of the Yankees. After, Baltimore sunk to third place, 4.5 games behind New York.

The Baltimore offense struggled in Houston, scoring just six runs. Wade Miley and Alec Asher disappointed in their starts, allowing 10 earned runs in seven combined innings. Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo hit home runs.

In the standings: Despite winning four straight games, the Orioles (46-49) enter the weekend fourth place in the American League East, seven games behind the Red Sox (54-43). The Astros (63-32) comfortably sit in first place in the AL West. They represent the only team in that division with a record above .500, 16 games ahead of the second-place Mariners (48-49).

Game Times and Pitching Matchups: 

Game 1Friday, July 21, 7:05 pm – Mike Fiers (6-4, 3.75 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (4-5, 7.01 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Saturday, July 22, 7:05 pm – Collin McHugh vs. Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.20 ERA) – MASN, WJZ, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3Sunday, July 23, 1:35 pm – Lance McCullers Jr. (7-2, 3.28 ERA) vs. Dylan Bundy (9-8, 4.18 ERA) – MASN, TBS, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Astros:

  • Houston leads Major League Baseball in several offensive categories: runs (558), hits (956), home runs (155), RBI (528), total bases (1,646) and on-base percentage (.355).
  • Right fielder George Springer’s 27 home runs ties the second-place mark in MLB. Khris Davis of the Athletics ties with Springer.
  • At Camden Yards, second baseman Jose Altuve owns a .423 batting average in 52 at-bats, with 22 hits and 11 RBI.
  • Saturday marks the first start of 2017 for McHugh after missing the entire first half of the season with elbow issues. In 2016, McHugh made 33 starts and pitched to a 4.34 ERA. Against the Birds (five starts), McHugh owns a 6.18 ERA.

Notes on the Orioles:

  • Four Orioles hit home runs in Thursday’s 9-7 win over Texas. The O’s possess 10 four-homer games this season, which leads MLB.
  • With runners in scoring position, Baltimore ranks second in the American League and fourth in MLB with a .290 batting average. Trey Mancini’s .411 average with RISP leads the AL and ranks fourth in MLB.
  • In their last three series against Houston, the Orioles went a combined 1-9.
  • Schoop’s career batting average against the Astros is .310 (58 AB’s). Jimenez’s lifetime ERA against Houston amounts to 2.87 (11 starts, 13 appearances).

Up next: The Orioles embark on a six-game road trip featuring two three-game sets. The first three games take place from Tropicana Field against the Rays. On Thursday, July 27, the Birds receive their first off-day of the second half. The latter series takes place over the weekend from Globe Life Park against the Rangers.

Image Credit:Charm City Wire