For the half season Scott Feldman spent in Baltimore, starts at Camden Yards were a chore. Change the Houston starter into a road uniform at the park, and he’s unbeaten in four starts.
The Astros might need him to find that kind of effort and overcome a rough month Tuesday night in Baltimore if they’re to avoid dropping the first two of this three-game series with the Orioles.
Feldman (3-4, 5.17 ERA), who had a 15-start stint in Baltimore to conclude 2013, has endured a trying May. After allowing five runs – four earned – and 10 hits in six innings but avoiding the decision in Thursday’s 6-5 loss in Detroit, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in four starts this month.
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The Orioles roughed him up in two starts last season, resulting in a loss and 11 runs allowed in 11 1-3 innings. Most of that damage came in Houston, but as a visiting pitcher at Camden, he’s 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA as opposed to going 4-4 with a 5.60 ERA in his nine home starts with the Orioles.
Feldman has held Adam Jones to 2 for 20, but Manny Machado (5 for 8 with two home runs, a triple and a double) and David Lough (4 for 5 with a home run) have hit him well.
He’s facing Chris Tillman, whose struggles stretch beyond the beginning of the month with a 0-4 record and 6.41 ERA in his last five starts. The right-hander allowed one run, one hit and three walks in three innings before exiting after a lengthy rain delay in Thursday’s 5-4 win over Seattle.
Tillman (2-5, 6.10) is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in three starts against the Astros.
Baltimore (20-22), winner of three straight over Houston (29-17) and 15 of 20 since being swept in the teams’ first meeting in 2003, began the series with Monday’s 4-3 win. It came despite being limited to six hits for a second straight game, but it was an improvement over the two runs the Orioles had scored in their previous two games.
Steve Pearce and Caleb Joseph each hit two-run homers, giving Pearce three in nine games after starting the season with two in his first 23.
The Orioles are still waiting for the guy they counted on for a .293 average and 21 home runs a season ago to really get going. Pearce is batting .192 and hasn’t had hits in consecutive games this month. Jones is also struggling with a 3-for-22 mark over his last five and one extra-base hit in his last 12.
"Hopefully today is the start of something," Pearce said. "We have a good team, we have a good hitting team. We just haven’t had consistency all year. Right now is a good time to get hot as any."
It might have to come without J.J. Hardy, who left the game with back tightness. Manager Buck Showalter didn’t rule him out for Tuesday.
Houston’s George Springer was 3 for 5 with a home run and is 10 for 24 over six games after entering that stretch with a .185 average. Jose Altuve went 2 for 4 after bringing a 3-for-32 slump into the series. Altuve’s a .417 career hitter against the Orioles, but Springer is 0 for 6 with three strikeouts versus Tillman.
The Astros were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position in the opener, while Baltimore’s .294 season mark is among the best in the majors.
"I think the game was more about they took advantage of every opportunity they had, which weren’t many," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.