Orioles host Angels in key AL wild-card series
BALTIMORE -- If the Baltimore Orioles are hoping to make a big move in the American League wild card race, they could have a chance to do so starting Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.
That is the opener of a three-game series at Camden Yards as the Orioles (59-62) play 16 of their next 19 games at home, where the team has found much more success than away from Baltimore. The Orioles are 35-23 at home and 24-39 on the road.
Baltimore is coming off a 4-6 West Coast trip against the Angels, Oakland and Seattle, and the Orioles are glad to be returning to Camden Yards only three games out of the second wild-card spot.
"We're headed back to Baltimore," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Wednesday after a 7-6 loss in Seattle. "It's been a long trip, and we have a chance to roll the dice the last six weeks, and that's what we hope to do -- compete with a chance to play in October. We're still engaged in it."
The wild-card race is extremely tight in the American League. The New York Yankees and Angels hold the two wild-card spots, with seven teams within three games of the Angels (62-59) for the last spot.
"You can put as much importance on (the Baltimore series) as you want," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday after a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. "We need to win. We need to play our game every night."
The Angels took two of three from the Orioles when the teams met in Anaheim last week.
Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 4.70 ERA) will start for the Orioles on Friday, and Andrew Heaney, who had Tommy John surgery in July 2016, will make his season debut for the Angels.
Hellickson has eaten up some innings and been effective at times since the Orioles acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies last month, but he is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts with Baltimore. He has a 3-4 record with a 3.02 ERA in eight games (seven starts) vs. the Angels.
Heaney pitched in only one game last year before the injury. On his rehab work in 2017, Heaney went 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in three starts with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Scioscia is very pleased to see 26-year-old left-hander returning.
"It is a remarkable recovery he went through with his rehab," Scioscia said. "It was so seamless; he feels terrific. You pay close attention to how he is feeling and how he is throwing. We are excited to give him the ball."
In his only appearance vs. Baltimore, in 2015, Heaney allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The Angels will need to make a move on their 25-man roster to open a spot for Heaney.
Baltimore made a few roster moves Thursday. They reinstated outfielder Anthony Santander (a Rule 5 pick) from the 60-day disabled list. He had been on the DL all season with a right forearm strain.
The Orioles also reinstated utility infielder Ryan Flaherty (right shoulder strain) from the 60-day DL.
To open spots for those two, the Orioles optioned outfielder Joey Rickard to Triple-A Norfolk, and infielder Ruben Tejada cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Norfolk.
Updated August 18, 2017