O's Visit Wrigley
The Baltimore Orioles' storied history includes three World Series titles, but no trips to Wrigley Field. Their first visit probably couldn't come at a worse time.
The Orioles face a Chicago Cubs team looking to win 15 straight home games for the first time in 73 years Tuesday night when the clubs open a three-game set.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Chicago -125 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -125 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Chicago (48-28) has the top record in baseball thanks to its 32-8 mark at home, the franchise's best start at Wrigley in its 93 years playing at the park.
The Cubs dropped their first two home games of 2008 and three of their first four, but have been unbeatable at home over the last month. They've won 14 straight at Wrigley since May 18 and just finished their fourth sweep in a row, beating the crosstown rival White Sox 7-1 on Sunday night.
"Pretty unbelievable,'' said Ryan Dempster, who improved to 9-0 at home by pitching eight innings. "For whatever reason, guys enjoy pitching here, guys hit well here, guys field well here. It's a little bit of everything.''
The Cubs' run at home is their longest since winning their final 18 games at Wrigley in 1935.
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Chicago was scheduled to send its ace to the mound for the opener against the Orioles (38-36), but Carlos Zambrano is on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder strain. That means Sean Marshall (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will make his first start since September.
Marshall, who pitched 13 games in relief earlier this season, has been building up his pitch count at Triple-A Iowa. The left-hander gave up one run over eight innings in his last outing, his longest of the season.
"He's about as stretched out as stretched out can be," manager Lou Piniella told the team's official Web site.
Marshall will be able to rely on the NL's best offense Tuesday. With 418 runs, the Cubs are second in the majors behind Texas, but they're unmatched in baseball at home. Chicago is averaging 6.5 runs at Wrigley Field, by far the most in the majors.
With Alfonso Soriano on the DL, it's been Aramis Ramirez who's carried the load lately. The third baseman went 6-for-13 with four homers and eight RBIs against the White Sox over the weekend.
"Aramis is getting hot," second baseman Mark DeRosa said. "You take a big bat out of the lineup, someone needs to step up huge. It seems like Aramis has just been a monster for us."
Baltimore hasn't been nearly as successful with the bats, ranking in the bottom five of the AL in runs (4.4 per game) and batting average (.257). The Orioles did average 6.3 runs in winning six of seven from June 13-20, including an 8-5 series-opening win in Milwaukee on Friday.
However, they scored only five total runs while dropping the last two to the Brewers. Baltimore hit into five double plays and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in a 7-3 loss Sunday.
"It's a crazy game,'' manager Dave Trembley said. "Things happen and there really isn't any rhyme or reason to it as how it works out. It don't figure.''
One Oriole who hasn't had any problems at the plate is Aubrey Huff, who's hitting .435 with five homers and 11 RBIs over his last 11 games.
Baltimore hasn't scored much when Jeremy Guthrie (3-7, 3.51) has been on the mound. He's receiving just 3.2 runs of support per game, fourth-lowest in baseball.
Lack of offense cost the right-hander again Wednesday in his best start of the season. He allowed one run and three hits with eight strikeouts over eight innings against Houston, but didn't get the decision in the Orioles' 2-1 win.
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