Left-hander Cole Irvin looks to continue his career-long mastery of sub-.500 teams when he attempts to pitch the host Oakland Athletics to a second straight victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.
The Orioles are expected to promote right-hander Chris Ellis from Triple-A Norfolk to take the start originally projected to be made by ace John Means, who was transferred to the 60-day injured list on Sunday due to a left elbow ailment.
Irvin (1-1, 5.40 ERA) opened with a personal split on the road against two clubs seen as contenders in their divisions this season, the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays.
On Tuesday, the 28-year-old will go up against a Baltimore team expected to challenge the A’s for the No. 1 pick in the next draft. And it’s against that type of opponent that Irvin has been at his best.
Just a 4-13 pitcher with a 6.81 ERA in his career against teams .500 and above, Irvin has compiled an ERA almost four full runs lower (2.85) while going 9-5 against teams under .500.
Those numbers were aided last season in his only career start against the Orioles. In a 3-1 win at Baltimore last April, Irvin held the Orioles to one run in 5 1/3 innings.
In just Oakland’s second home game of the season, Irvin will attempt to match — or better — the feat of Frankie Montas in the Athletics’ home opener on Monday. Montas limited the Orioles to two hits in six innings en route to a 5-1 win.
After recording his first home win as A’s manager, Mark Kotsay credited the 17,503 in attendance for giving his team a boost.
“A lot of energy in the building tonight,” Kotsay said. “That’s exciting for us as a club to come home and feel that warm welcome. I look forward to that type of crowds going forward.
“We’re somewhat young, but we’ve got a good group in there that can play with some passion.”
Irvin allowed a total of 12 hits and seven runs in 11 2/3 innings during his first two outings. His 10th pitch of the season was driven for a two-run home run by Philadelphia’s Nick Castellanos, one of three homers Irvin allowed on the day.
Despite yielding a long ball to Brandon Lowe on Thursday, Irvin did manage to get a win in a 6-3 victory over Tampa Bay, tossing 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball.
Ellis was sent to the minors last month after failing to earn a spot in the Orioles’ season-opening rotation. He pitched three games in the spring, allowing eight runs (seven earned) and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. Ellis fired four scoreless, hitless innings in his lone outing for Norfolk.
The 29-year-old made six starts for the Orioles last season, going 0-0 with a 2.49 ERA. He has never faced the A’s.
It was no coincidence that Orioles manager Brandon Hyde had to think long and hard about who would start in Means’ place on Tuesday. He has both short- and long-term plans to ponder.
“(Means) is not going to be on the mound for a while,” Hyde said, before turning his attention to who the long-term replacement might be. “I don’t know that. That’s a question mark right now.”
Orioles pitchers allowed just five hits in the series opener, but two errors led to four unearned runs that broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning.
–Field Level Media