Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Coming off a rough week, the Mariners could gain some momentum against the Baltimore Orioles. The fourth-place team from the AL East could be just what the Mariners need to reclaim the best record in baseball. Find out how it will happen in InsidethePark.com's exclusive Series Preview!

Safeco Field, Seattle, WA

Seattle (55-32, 24-17 home) 1st place: AL West
Baltimore (39-46, 18-22 away) 4th place: AL East

Tuesday, July 8, 7:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: Joel Pineiro #38 (R) (9-5, 3.41 ERA)
Baltimore: Jason Johnson #16 (R) (7-3, 3.89)

Wednesday, July 9, 7:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: Ryan Franklin #45 (R) (6-7, 3.65)
Baltimore: Rick Helling #35 (R) (5-6, 5.81)

Thursday, July 10, 7:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: Freddy Garcia #34 (R) (9-7, 4.45)
Baltimore: Sidney Ponson #43 (R) (11-5, 3.85)

News & Notes
This series matches the best team in the AL West against the cellar dwellers in to the right coast. Although the Baltimore Orioles aren't in last place, they do play in a division with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and they're more bottom feeders than cellar dwellers...

The Orioles are a team on the rise however.

A utility man who happens to have the highest batting average in the AL leads them. They also have a very good, up and coming pitching staff…

Judging by how the Mariners have played against inferior teams, this promises to be a series to watch…

It looks as if each pitching match-up will be very even. But if there was one to watch it would probably come on Thursday when Freddy Garcia faces the Orioles' 11-game-winner Sidney Ponson.

WHO'S HOT?:

Seattle:
Ichiro comes into the series first in the Major Leagues in hits with 127. He also is second in the AL in batting average with a mark of .349 and second in the AL in the stolen-bases category with 23.

He has also been hot of late, hitting .462 over the past seven days…

Edgar Martinez also had a strong week by hitting all three of the Mariners' home runs while posting a .348 average…

Joel Pineiro is coming off one of his strongest starts of the season.

In his last start, he pitched eight innings of shut-out baseball, only giving up three hits.

He hopes for a repeat performance on Tuesday against Jason Johnson…

Rafael Soriano has been red-hot out of the bullpen for the M's. He collected the other win among out of the Mariners two wins over the past week.

Soriano pitched three innings without giving up any runs...

Shigetoshi Hasegawa has also been excellent out of the Mariners' pen and earned a spot on the AL All-Star team.

Shiggy hasn't allowed an earned run in over a month and has only surrendered three earned runs since May 6th…

Soriano and especially Hasegawa have really picked up the slack in the M's bullpen since the injury to Kaz Sasaki and the struggles of Jeff Nelson and Arthur Rhodes.

Baltimore:
Melvin Mora is having a career year for the Baltimore Orioles. However, Mora has no definite position for the O's.

One game he might be spotted somewhere in the outfield and then the next game there could be a sighting at Shortstop.

Through all of the position changes, Mora has still maintained the AL's highest batting average and by doing so justified his selection to his very first All-Star game…

Sidney Ponson has stood out among Oriole pitchers this season. He currently has 11 wins, which puts him among an elite group in the AL.

He is also the only 11-game-winner in the AL not making the trip to Chicago for the All-Star game.

WHO'S NOT?:

Seattle:
The Mariners only won two games last week, while losing a series to last-place Texas…

Jeff Cirillo and Mark McLemore both have struggled lately. Both had an average of .176 (3-17) last week…

Ten-game-winner Gil Meche has struggled in his last couple of starts.

Meche lost his last start in Texas, in which he gave up five runs and only lasted four innings.

Meche may be exhausted from his impressive first-half performance and the impending All-Star break could give him some much-needed rest.

Before this season, Meche had lost the last two years to injury…

Freddy Garcia lost his last start – his first loss since May 21.

Garcia faced Texas and pitched 6.1 innings, giving up seven earned runs in a Mariners loss.

Garcia needs to bring more to the mound on Thursday when he faces Ponson.

Baltimore:
Former All-Star 3B Tony Batista has hit a slump this season. Batista is hitting only .250 for the season and is only 2 for his last 19…

The Orioles are also feeling the effects of the loss of 1B/DH David Segui. Segui only made one official plate appearance over the past seven days and it isn't known whether the former Mariner will play in the series.

Richie Stone is the brain behind the exclusive Series Preview at InsidethePark.com. Let him know what you think at richietstone@aol.com.


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