On Tuesday night the Orioles enjoyed their largest shutout win since a 12-0 win vs the Yankees in August 2007 as they defeated the Minnesota Twins 11-0. After entering 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in their previous two games, the Orioles hit 6-for-11 with RISP against the Twins.
Wednesday night's starter for the Twins, Nick Blackburn, has provided headaches in the past for some of the Orioles notable hitters.
Nick Markakis is 1-for-9 against Blackburn. He homered in his first plate appearance against him on September 14, 2008. He put the ball in play against him in his next eight at-bats, but has no hits to show for it.
Vladimir Guerrero is 2-for-12 against Blackburn with four strikeouts while hitting into three double plays. Guerrero is a .248 career hitter against the Twins, by far his worst batting average against any team.
Mark Reynolds is hitless in three career at-bats against Nick Blackburn, but that is the least of his worries. After striking out with the bases loaded Tuesday night, Reynolds is 0-for-his-last 26 in bases loaded situations, with 18 strikeouts.
He has struck out in five of his last six plate appearances that came with the bases loaded and fewer than two outs (when putting the ball in play probably scores the run). His .118 bases-loaded batting average is the lowest among active players.
Perhaps Guerrero can be a good influence. He’s a .348 hitter with the bases loaded and was 11-for-17 last season with two grand slams (and no sac flies). Or maybe Derrek Lee, who was 8-for-15 with the bases loaded last season (no sac flies).
Going up against Blackburn is Zach Britton who has pitched well to start the season for the Orioles. Britton won his first two games, allowing just one run combined.
According to Elias, since the Orioles moved to Baltimore in 1954, only one other pitcher won his first two major league games, both as a starting pitcher, allowing no more than one run combined. That was Tom Phoebus, who started his major-league career with a pair of shutouts in September 1966.
Britton did allow five runs in six innings pitched in his third start April 15, but four of those five runs came in the third inning. Besides that third inning, he’s been great, allowing just two earned runs in the other 18 2/3 innings pitched.
With the Orioles snapping their eight-game losing streak on Tuesday, the pressure shifts to the Twins on Wednesday. Minnesota is looking for its first series victory of the season. They have lost their first five series of the season. That’s the longest streak of winless series (i.e. tied or lost) to start a season for the team since 1995, when they were winless in their first 16 series of the season.