Struggling Orioles return home to host Cardinals (Jun 16, 2017)

BY AP • June 16, 2017

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles return home after a disastrous eight-game road trip where they dropped seven of eight and fell into a tie with the Toronto Blue Jays at the bottom of the American League East.

The Orioles (32-33) likely are hoping that being back in the friendly confines of Camden Yards for the next seven games (three versus the Cardinals starting Friday at 7:05 ET, followed by four more with American League champion Cleveland) might help them snap this funk.

Baltimore has a 21-10 record at home yet is just 11-23 on the road.

The Orioles began the season at 22-10 but since then slid to 10-23. Their starting pitching has been a mess, injuries have hurt the bullpen, and the offense can't hit at the right times.

Still, manager Buck Showalter is not going to wave the white flag just yet.

"It's all fixable, because we've shown that sometimes those are strengths for us," Showalter said in The Baltimore Sun Thursday. "We've got to get back to that. I'm not one of those guys that hangs it all around one phase of the game. This is a game where when one is lacking, the other part of the game picks it up. That's something we've done well and been known for. We aren't doing it right now."

That's why the White Sox handed them a 5-2 loss Thursday afternoon. Starter Chris Tillman (1-5) went 5 1/3 innings and pitched better but still gave up five runs on 11 hits.

Kevin Gausman (3-5, 6.49) will start the series opener against St. Louis but has never found his way this season after pitching well in the second half of last year.

Control issues have hounded him at times, a big reason the hard-throwing right-hander (0-1, 5.40 in one game versus the Cards) has struggled the entire year. He gave up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 14-3 loss at the Yankees in his last start -- walking six without a strikeout.

The Cardinals will answer with Carlos Martinez (5-5, 2.95), who threw his first career complete game in his last start in a 7-0 victory over the Phillies on June 10. He struck out 11 and gave up only four hits.

Martinez now is 5-2. This will be the first time he has pitched versus Baltimore.

The Cardinals also come into this series looking to straighten some things out. Eric Thames of Milwaukee hit a two-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth off Seung-Hwan Oh to give the Brewers a 6-4 victory in their series finale Thursday night.

St. Louis (30-35) now has dropped three straight and 20 of 29. The Cardinals clearly were not happy after the loss on Thursday.

"It's frustrating; we're not a team that should be below .500, and that's where we are (now)," said St. Louis first baseman Matt Carpenter. "It's frustrating and I don't know how to say it any other way. This is not something we're used to, and it's not something we enjoy, and it's not fun."

The Orioles are dealing with a number of injury issues. Outfielder Seth Smith (back problems) might go on the disabled list Friday, and pitcher Mike Wright (shoulder) will be examined by a doctor in Baltimore, also Friday.

First baseman Chris Davis recently went on the disabled list, and pitcher Darren O'Day likely won't come off it when eligible later this weekend, leaving the Baltimore bullpen short unless the team puts Wright on the DL and calls up a pitcher.

The Cardinals put second baseman Kolten Wong on the DL Thursday (right triceps strain) and called up infielder Paul DeJong from Triple-A Memphis.

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