Andrew McCutchen is among the NL's top hitters, but he's the best in baseball against left-handers.
That's a big reason the Pittsburgh Pirates are unexpectedly tied atop the NL Central.
McCutchen will try to keep the Pirates rolling by continuing his dominance of southpaws against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.
A career .282 hitter and an All-Star for the first time last year, McCutchen is among the league leaders with a .325 average while pacing the Pirates (32-27) with 11 homers and 36 RBIs.
McCutchen is even better against left-handers, leading the majors with a .463 average with four homers and 17 RBIs in 54 at-bats.
McCutchen gets another chance to deliver against a left-hander as the Orioles (34-26) are scheduled to send Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 3.49 ERA) to the mound. McCutchen went 6 for 9 as the Pirates took two of three from Baltimore at home last June 20-22.
Another strong performance from McCutchen could give Pittsburgh sole possession of the Central lead. The Pirates are tied with Cincinnati, which opens a three-game set against Cleveland, thanks to a 12-3 run.
The Pirates have won four in a row since Brad Lincoln (3-1, 2.40) lost his last outing, and the right-hander will try to rebound and lift them to their first five-game winning streak since Sept. 17-22, 2010.
Lincoln is getting another turn in the rotation with Charlie Morton (right elbow inflammation) and Jeff Karstens (right shoulder inflammation) on the disabled list, and he's 4-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 19 career starts.
He gave up five runs and six hits in four innings of a 5-4 loss in Cincinnati on Wednesday in his first start since May 14. Lincoln had thrown 5 2-3 scoreless innings over his previous six games, all in relief.
Chen (5-2, 3.49) was impressive in his latest outing Wednesday, yielding one run and scattering seven hits over seven innings of a 2-1 win at Boston. The rookie from Taiwan was 0-2 with a 7.31 ERA in his previous three starts.
He's 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in five starts at Camden Yards.
Many thought he'd never play again, yet barring a last-minute setback, Brian Roberts is due to return to the Orioles on Tuesday.
Roberts, who suffered a concussion in September 2010 and another in May 2011, wrapped up his rehab assignment Sunday and is expected to rejoin the 25-man roster Tuesday after spending the past year on the disabled list.
The switch-hitting former All-Star tried to come back in late summer 2011, but recurring headaches prevented him from participating in anything more than light drills. He first appeared in organized, affiliated games during his rehab process over the past few weeks. Roberts hit a combined .238 with a .340 on-base percentage, five doubles, one homer and four RBI in 14 games for three Baltimore farm teams.
Roberts won't play every day. He'll probably serve as the designated hitter as much as he plays second base, which will be fairly regularly between equally regular days off.
Expecting the old Roberts -- a doubles and stolen-bases machine -- to return to form immediately would be unfair. But his mere presence and experience will bring some new spark to the club.
And Roberts should be energized in his return. The Orioles haven't been this competitive since the 2005 season, when Roberts was breaking out in his third full season.
2B Robert Andino may go from everyday second baseman to everyday utility man when 2B Brian Roberts rejoins the club. Andino could see time at third base, shortstop and in the outfield. He also could serve as a designated hitter, but it's more likely he'll give other position players a day at designated hitter while he shuffles about.
CF Adam Jones may stand the best chance of any Oriole of winning a starting job in the All-Star Game. As of Monday, Jones was less than 100,000 votes out of third place in the AL outfield balloting. He was in fifth, with the top three vote-getters earning starting spots. SS J.J. Hardy and C Matt Wieters each were in third at their respective positions, while Robert Andino was in fourth at second base.
LHP Wei-Yin Chen will be coming off one of the best starts of his career when he faces Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Chen threw a gem in Boston in his last go-round, striking out four and allowing just one run on seven hits in seven innings. He improved to 5-2 on the season. He's earned a win in every game in which he's pitched seven innings.
SS Adrian Marin signed a contract after being selected in the third round last week, the Baltimore Sun reported. The Miami high-schooler signed a deal at slot value—$481,100—and is expected to start working out with the Orioles' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Sarasota, Fla., according to the Sun.
RHP Dylan Bundy was selected to the high Class A Carolina League All-Star team after appearing in just three games with Frederick. Bundy, 19, burst onto the scene with low Class A Delmarva to start his career after being selected fourth overall in the June 2011 draft. He is considered by many to be the best prospect in baseball. 3B Ty Kelly and OF Jeremy Nowak will join their Keys teammate in the All-Star Game.
By The Numbers:
24-for-24—Games the Orioles have won this season when leading after eight innings.
Quote To Note:
"If you keep the other team from scoring, eventually someone will get the run. The bullpen has been great keeping us in games."
—C Matt Wieters.