The Baltimore Orioles travel to New York to take on the Mets in this final week of Interleague play. Baltimore and New York are two of the most surprising teams in the Major leagues this season. Baltimore sits just 1.5 games behind the Yankees for the top spot in the AL East. The Mets have ridden the fine pitching of R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, and Jonathon Niese to a record of 35-32. New York is currently 4.5 games back of the Nation League East leading Washington Nationals.
Orioles’ right-hander Jake Arrieta will face the knuckle-balling Dickey in Monday’s series opener. Dickey is currently 10-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 13 starts. Arrieta has been maddeningly inconsistent since starting for the Orioles on Opening Day. He allowed just one run over seven innings in his last start but for the season Arrieta is just 3-8 with a 5.89 ERA in 14 starts.
Game two looks like another pitching mismatch in the Mets’ favor with Johan Santana squaring off against Tommy Hunter. While Santana has struggled since his no-hitter the veteran lefty still sports a 4-3 record with a 3.23 ERA in 2012. Hunter has struggled for Baltimore and was at one point demoted to Triple-A. Hunter improved to 3-3 with last Thursday’s victory over the Pirates but his ERA rose to 5.58.
Baltimore will throw Brian Matusz against the Mets’ Dillon Gee in Wednesday’s series finale. Matusz fell to 5-7 on the season after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings to the Braves last Friday night. Gee is 4-5 with a 4.43 ERA in 13 starts for New York.
The Baltimore offense is led by Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, the suddenly hot Mark Reynolds, and the emerging Chris Davis. Reynolds began the season as the Orioles’ third baseman but his continued defensive struggles have pushed him to a first base/DH role. Reynolds has improved his OPS from .457 to .785 in 25 games since May 2nd. In his first full season in Baltimore Chris Davis has emerged as a valuable and versatile contributor. The 26 year old first baseman has won a game as a relief pitcher and most recently played three games in right field during the Atlanta series. The Orioles’ offense has been boosted by the return of second baseman Brian Roberts from post-concussion symptoms. Roberts has assumed his customary leadoff role and driven in four runs in five games since he return.
The Mets’ offense is led by All Star third baseman David Wright who’s currently hitting .355 with a 1.032 OPS. Outfielders Lucas Duda and Scott Hairston provide manager Terry Collins with some home run punch. Rookie center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis has done a commendable job in the top spot in New York’s lineup. The rookie has a .350 on base percentage to go along with six home runs, 24 RBI, and 38 runs scored. First baseman Ike Davis continues to struggle. The one-time highly regarded prospect is hitting just .194 with a .599 OPS in 64 games.