Orioles Flying High

The surging offense of the Baltimore Orioles has them going for their best stretch of the season while the stagnant bats of the Kansas City Royals have them trying to avoid their worst.

The Orioles go for a season-high fifth straight victory and second three-game sweep of the Royals as the teams meet in Wednesday's finale at Kauffman Stadium.

Oddsmakers have made Baltimore -135 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Baltimore -135 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Baltimore (25-27) is outscoring opponents 31-10 and batting .315 during its four-game run, including a 6-2 victory over Kansas City (19-24) on Tuesday. Ramon Hernandez drove in two runs one day after hitting a grand slam, and Kevin Millar homered for the Orioles, who improved to 10-16 on the road with wins in four of their last five games there.

"I think this team is a very balanced offense," Millar told the Orioles' official Web site. "I don't think we, obviously, have swung the bats to our capability the first six weeks of the season, but we've very capable of getting started and continuing to be hot."

Baltimore's offense has also been hot versus the Royals, outscoring them 31-9 and batting .333 to take all five matchups this season. The Orioles, who have won seven in a row overall in the series and 16 of the last 19 meetings, have also posted a 1.57 ERA against Kansas City in 2007.

That's bad news for the Royals, who are trying to avoid a season-high seventh straight defeat. They have been outscored 51-13 during their skid and mustered just three hits Tuesday - the fewest during their slump.

Kansas City called a hitters-only meeting before its latest defeat and manager Buddy Bell also retooled the lineup, but neither had much effect. The Royals' starting rotation has also contributed to the slide, recording a dismal 10.91 ERA.

Gil Meche (3-3, 3.18 ERA) tries to quiet the hot Baltimore bats and avoid losing his third straight start for Kansas City. The right-hander began the season 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in his first nine starts, but is 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA in his last two.

He gave up seven runs and 11 hits over 4 1-3 innings, all season worsts, in a 10-2 defeat to Seattle on Friday. Meche said he was bothered by stiffness in his lower back during the game.

"Nothing was sharp and my velocity dropped quite a bit,'' Meche said. "The lower back knotted up so bad I just couldn't push.''

Meche is 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 13 career starts versus the Orioles, and threw six shutout innings before leaving without a decision against them on April 12. He will try to slow Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts, who is 13-for-26 with a homer and four doubles lifetime versus the right-hander.

Erik Bedard (3-3, 4.10) looks to end a lengthy winless stretch as he takes the mound for Baltimore. The left-hander went 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA in his first four starts, but has since gone 0-2 in seven outings despite a 3.43 ERA in that stretch and holding opponents to a .200 batting average.

Bedard allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings in Friday's 3-2 defeat to Oakland - his fifth straight quality start. The 28-year-old southpaw, who hasn't won since April 18, walked three and struck out eight to bring his season total to 83, good for second in the American League.

He is 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in four career starts versus the Royals, and held them to one run and five hits over six innings in an 8-1 win on April 13.

The Orioles have not had a three-game sweep at Kansas City since April 26-28, 2002.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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