New skipper, same results in Baltimore

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Juan Samuel Orioles.jpgClay Buchholz ruined Juan Samuel’s first game as O’s interim manager, tossing a complete-game five-hit shutout as part of an 11-0 victory on Friday night. The Orioles have now lost nine consecutive games and enter play on Saturday at 15-40. They currently sit an incredible 21 games behind the first-place Rays in the American League East.

It doesn’t look like things are going to get magically better any time soon, but Samuel’s sense of humor is still intact. For now, anyway. (via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).

“Well, we got the first one out of the way for me.”

Friday’s starter Chris Tillman was only able to record four outs before he was yanked
after 57 pitches, giving up four runs on five hits while walking two and
striking out two. It was only his second start back in the big leagues, but the young right-hander is symptomatic of a core of young players — including Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen — who have taken a “giant step” backward this season, according to team president Andy MacPhail.

It’s hard for MacPhail to preach patience when the team needs to try to sell tickets — especially with the excitement in the region tilting in the Nationals’ favor — but let’s just say that the young core mentioned above isn’t the only thing that has diverted off course in the past year. I believe the Orioles unfairly raised the expectations of their fanbase by bringing in veterans like Kevin Millwood, Mike Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins this winter when they really didn’t need to.

The injuries to Gonzalez and Brian Roberts haven’t helped their plight, but contending should never have been a consideration this season anyway. The Gonzalez signing was especially absurd at the time and looks even more egregious now. With that being said, I still trust MacPhail’s overall vision for the franchise. I just hope it isn’t much longer before we see names like Millwood and Ty Wigginton give way to promising youngsters like Jake Arrietta and Josh Bell.  
 

Sox, Astros look to take a lead, Brewers look to take command in tonight’s LCS action

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The Red Sox and Astros felt each other out for Games 1 and 2 and now things shift to Houston for Game 3. Each team faces a challenge of sorts here, with the Astros facing a right-handed starter for the first time in the series — they have hit better against lefties on the season — and the Red Sox entering the game with some questions about their bullpen, particularly closer Craig Kimbrel. Also of note: each team has a big bit — Jose Altuve and J.D. Martinez — which has been cold thus far. Altuve has gone 1-for-8 in the first two games and Martinez is 0-for-7. Altuve is nursing a sore right knee and may be the DH this afternoon. Martinez, of course, will DH for Boston. It’ll be interesting to see if either one of ’em gets of the schneid.

In Los Angeles, the Brewers would take a commanding 3-1 lead with a victory tonight. As noted below, things are set up nicely for them from a pitching perspective, having basically everyone available in what will be, essentially, a bullpen game. The Dodgers have a traditional starter on the mound in Rich Hill, but since Walker Buehler went seven innings and Dave Roberts did not have to use his top relief arms, he’ll likely be calling down to the pen earlier than usual as well. Indeed, expect him to pull out all the stops he can to avoid falling into a 1-3 hole in this best-of-seven series.

Your viewing guide:

ALCS Game 3

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 5:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Dallas Keuchel
Breakdown:

Eovaldi is coming off seven innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts and no walks in his Game 3 start against the Yankees in the ALDS. Earlier this year he faced the Astros when he was still with the Rays — as you probably heard by now, that didn’t go too well — but he’s been solid as a rock for Boston since the beginning of September, not allowing more than two runs in any start and blanking the opposition three times. Keuchel is working on seven days of rest since giving up two runs over five innings in his Game 3 of the ALDS. Sometimes people say guys with sinking stuff like his do worse with more rest but I feel like every time I’ve heard that for the past decade, a guy like him has either been just fine on extra rest or has gotten shelled on the allegedly good short rest they get. It’s mostly noise. So much small sample stuff this time of year is noise. Including the fact that Keuchel is 0-1 with a 9.15 ERA over four appearances against the Sox in his career. People say that stuff to have something to say. Like I just did.

NLCS Game 4

Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 9:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers: Gio Gonzalez vs. Rich Hill
Breakdown:

Gio Gonzalez will start the game, but as was the case in Game 1 when Gonzalez pitched just two innings, look for him to be an opener here once again. In Game 1 Craig Counsell used seven pitchers, with Brandon Woodruff going two innings and Josh Hader going three. Hader pitched yesterday but it was only two-thirds of an inning in which he only threw eight pitches, so expect to see him once again. The Dodgers, blanked yesterday, will need to show that they can do something against the Brewers’ best or this thing isn’t going back to Milwaukee for a Game 6 or 7. As for their starter, Rich Hill hasn’t pitched in eight days, last going four and a third against the Braves in the NLDS, allowing two runs. He’ll be pitching to Austin Barnes after Yasmani Grandal’s boo-inspiring performance in the postseason thus far sends him to the pine.