MLB Insiders: Baltimore Orioles

Charlie Morton

The Pirates open a three-game series with Baltimore on Monday night at PNC Park. Right-hander Charlie Morton will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Orioles will counter with righty Jake Arrieta.

While it wasn't too surprising given their record against the American League, an interleague series over the weekend did little to end the Pittsburgh Pirates' offensive woes.

After falling back below .500, the Pirates will try to bounce back Monday when they open a three-game home series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Pittsburgh (35-36) has suffered through 18 consecutive losing seasons, but it is trying hard to avoid extending that dubious mark. However, the team took a step backwards after being swept by Cleveland over the weekend. The Pirates scored one run in each of the first two games and didn't fare much better Sunday, losing 5-2 in 11 inning after Tim Wood surrendered a three-run homer to Cord Phelps.

Pittsburgh is averaging 2.2 runs the last 11 games and batting .167 with runners in scoring position after going 1 for 10 on Sunday.

The Pirates' series loss to the Indians isn't particularly shocking given they own the worst interleague record in the majors with a .371 winning percentage.

Baltimore has the third-worst at .439.

The Orioles (32-37), though, are looking to build on a 7-4 win over Washington on Sunday, just their second victory in eight games. After dropping the first two despite totaling 26 hits, Baltimore received home runs from J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds on Sunday while Derrek Lee added two hits, including an RBI-double in the fifth.

Charlie Morton (7-3, 3.21 ERA), who is scheduled to take the mound for Pittsburgh.

Morton labored to a win at Houston on Wednesday, giving up three runs and nine hits in five innings of a 7-3 victory.

The right-hander, who went 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA last year, is making his first start against the Orioles and first interleague appearance since 2009.

The Orioles will counter with Jake Arrieta (8-4, 4.45), who is looking for his fourth straight quality start. He didn't get much help against Toronto on Wednesday, giving up three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 loss.

The right-hander had entered that start receiving an average of 7.1 runs of support, one of the highest marks in the majors.

Arrieta, who has never faced the Pirates, has struggled in interleague play, going 1-2 with an 8.50 ERA in four outings. He issued six runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 17-5 loss to Washington on May 20.

This is the first meeting between the teams since 2008, and the first in Pittsburgh since 2005. Each team took two of three on its own field in those series.

Journeyman.

Spot-starter.

Whatever adjectives precede Chris Jakubauskas' name are becoming a thing of the past.

The right-hander is quietly becoming a stable force in the Orioles' rotation. While he isn't giving the club seven innings -- or even six -- Jakubauskas improved to 2-0 Sunday by throwing five solid innings, striking out six and walking just one in the Orioles' 7-4 win over Washington.

He did more than just pitch, too.

Jakubauskas went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.

Manager Buck Showalter said the coaching staff discussed Jakubauskas' hitting prowess prior to the game and said, "We could tell a little bit that he felt comfortable up there."

Jakubauskas singled with two down in the sixth, and was replaced by Jim Johnson in the bottom half of the frame.

He hasn't cemented his role in the rotation yet. When the staff is fully healthy, he likely is destined for the bullpen. But Jakubauskas is in much better standing now than he was a few weeks ago, when he seemed to be warming up the Baltimore-to-Norfolk carousel.

NOTES, QUOTES

--LHP Brian Matusz thinks he will be able to make his next start, likely slated for Friday. Matusz left Saturday's game with cramping in his left hamstring, but said Sunday morning: "It feels good. It's a little sore (Sunday), but my mobility is really good."

--LF/1B Luke Scott was not available Sunday after leaving Saturday's game with back spasms. Scott said Sunday morning he hopes to play Monday after getting more treatment on his back. He's also playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

--2B Brian Roberts will join the Orioles briefly while they're in Pittsburgh as he visits a concussion specialist there. Manager Buck Showalter said Roberts "will work out a little bit with us" Monday before meeting with Dr. Michael Collins Tuesday. Roberts has been battling headaches as a result of his second concussion in less than a year. Roberts has resumed his conditioning routine after being shut down last week with recurring headaches.

--1B Derrek Lee batted cleanup Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Lee's average climbed to .245 as he filled in for DH Vladimir Guerrero -- the club's normal cleanup hitter -- who was relegated to pinch-hit duty in the interleague series.

--3B Mark Reynolds raised his average to .217 with a 3-for-4 afternoon Sunday. Reynolds doubled and homered, scored twice and drove in a run. Reynolds' 13th homer of the season came as he led off the sixth inning, giving the Orioles a 6-3 cushion.

BY THE NUMBERS: 55 -- Baserunners allowed by RHP Jeremy Accardo (3-3, 5.29 ERA) in 32.1 innings before he was designated for assignment.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We were lucky to get through five with him. I think he was gassed and running on fumes." -- Manager Buck Showalter, on RHP Chris Jakubauskas' outing Sunday.

ROSTER REPORT
MEDICAL WATCH:

--LF Luke Scott (mid-back spasms) left the June 18 game. He did not play June 19 but hopes to play June 20 after getting more treatment on his back.

--LHP Brian Matusz (left hamstring cramps) left the June 18 game. He is day-to-day but Matusz thinks he will be able to make his next start, likely slated for June 24.

--RHP Jeremy Guthrie (back strain) left his June 16 start. He underwent an MRI exam June 17 that revealed a strain but no worse damage. He might miss his June 21 start.

--2B Brian Roberts (concussion-like symptoms) went on the seven-day disabled list retroactive to May 17. He remains shut down from baseball activities until at least the week of June 20-26. He will visit a concussion specialist June 21.

--RHP Alfredo Simon (strained right hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13.

--INF Cesar Izturis (ulnar nerve injury in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 17, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 21. He had surgery May 24. He might resume workouts in July, and he hopes to return to action before the end of the season.

--RHP Justin Duchscherer (sore left hip, sore back) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22 and was moved to the 60-day list on April 18. He underwent a medical procedure April 7 to relieve back pain. He threw two innings in extended spring training May 13, but he was scratched from a scheduled May 18 appearance. He had another setback in extended spring training June 7, when he experienced gluteal spasms. He cut short another extended spring training outing June 16 because of pain in his left hip.

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