Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals Preview and Pick

Baltimore Orioles (14-20) Jeremy Guthrie +121, 8.5 O/U at Kansas
City Royals (18-16) Gil Meche -131, 8.5 O/U, Kaufman Stadium,
Kansas City, Mo., 8:10 PM EST, Thursday

by Badger of

The Kansas City Royals grip on the American League Central is
starting to slip so returning back home to Kaufman Stadium couldnt
come at a better time, as they will hand the ball to right-hander Gil
Meche when they welcome the Baltimore Orioles and their ace Jeremy
Guthrie for the start of a four-game series Thursday night.

The Royals were riding high and sporting a six-game winning streak
when they left town for a West Coast trip last week, but disaster
struck while in California as they failed to win a single game. After
getting swept by the Angels in a three-game set in Anaheim to start
the trip, they Royals laid two more duds in Oakland including
yesterdays 7-2 loss.

The reason for the Royals five-game slide is offense, or lack
thereof, as they only scored nine total runs and hit a collective .
201 as a team on the trip. But home cooking will hopefully turn
things around tonight, as the Royals hit .329 and scored 42 runs in
the six games at Kaufman before they left for Cali.

Baltimore meanwhile enters tonights game on the heels of yesterdays
8-6 loss to Tampa Bay. The Orioles are playing decent baseball, going
5-5 over their last 10 games, but they may have been dealt a huge
blow when outfielder Adam Jones left yesterdays game with a bad

Jones, who is the Orioles best hitter (team-leading .370 and 8 HR),
was red-hot going 9-for-16 with three homeruns and seven runs batted
in in his last four games. If hes unable to go it will definitely
hurt the Orioles chances in the series.

Oddsmakers have staked Meche and the Royals as -131 favorites in
tonights opener, with the Orioles and Guthrie as +121 underdogs on
the dimeline. The over/under total is listed at 8.5 at most offshore
sportsbooks on the Web, but there are a few books listing the total
at 9 so shop around if you want the hook.

Its a little bit surprising to see Meche favored by such a wide
margin, as his and Guthries yearlong numbers are nearly identical.
Both righties are 2-3 on the season, but Meche has a 4.43 ERA, a 1.41
WHIP and a .331 opponents on-base average. Guthrie is the same type
of pitch-to-contact thrower, and his 4.97 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and .337
OBP are just decimal points behind Meche in all three categories.

Neither pitcher has had much success lately either. The Orioles have
failed to win any of Guthries has earned a win since April 11th and
in his last three starts he has allowed 19 hits, 4 walks and 10 runs
over 19 innings. Meche has been worse, giving up 22 hits, 10 walks
and 13 runs in just 15.1 innings, for a 7.63 ERA and a 2.09 WHIP.

History isnt kind to Meche either, as he is 0-6 with a 3.65 ERA in
eight starts against the Birds in his career. In his two starts
against them last season he was tagged for 10 runs in just 11 innings
of work.

Guthrie hasnt faced the Royals since 2007, when he threw seven
strong innings allowing just two runs and three hits in a 6-2 Oriole

But Guthrie will hope to continue the Orioles winning ways at Kaufman
Stadium. The Birds took three of four from the Royals on the road
last year, and are 14-3 on the road in Kansas City in the last 17
games overall.

The over is 26-10 in the last 36 games played in Kansas City,
including five of the last seven, but it is the under that is 4-1 in
Meches last five starts against the Orioles (all losses).

Badgers Pick: Like I mentioned, Im not sure why Meche is such a
heavy favorite in this game given the way hes been pitching. Even
with the way the Royals have been swinging, and with Jones a question
mark for the Orioles, I still like the over of 8.5 tonight. Take the
over of 8.5.