Though the Orioles and Athletics each have 13 wins to their name thus far, last year's two Cinderella teams seem to be trending in opposite directions heading into Friday night's matchup at the O.co Coliseum.
After taking Thursday's series opener, the O's will be looking for their seventh win in their last nine contests when they send Wei-Yin Chen to the mound opposite fellow left-hander Tommy Milone. The Athletics, meanwhile, will be hoping to avoid their seventh loss in their last eight games.
Not much has gone right for Oakland over the past week, as the A's returned home Thursday following their 1-5 road trip and promptly suffered a 10-2 rout at the hands of Baltimore. In their last six losses, the A's have been outscored 42-17 and nobody has suffered more from the recent drop-off than Milone.
The southpaw suffered his first loss of the season in his last outing, yielding six runs (four earned) on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings. Though not a spectacular outing by any means, it would have been more than enough for a win in either of his previous two starts, in which the A's provided 22 combined runs of support.
"That's the way the game goes. It happens," said Milone, who sits at 3-1 with a 4.26 ERA. "As much as we pitchers would like it, we're not going to score 10 runs every game. We don't worry about what the offense is doing. We've got to go out there and do our own business."
With Chen on the mound Friday, runs may be hard to come by yet again for the A's.
In two starts last season against Oakland, Chen was nearly untouchable, racking up a microscopic 0.71 ERA to go along with two wins. He also tallied 16 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings, good for an average of 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings -- his highest against any team.
Though Chen notched his first win of the season last Saturday against the Dodgers, the 27-year-old was far from pleased with his performance. He limited Los Angeles to one run over six innings, but handed out a season-high four walks and benefited from three double plays.
"Obviously, I don't think that it was really good tonight," Chen said through an interpreter following that outing. "I was lucky tonight. My stuff was terrible today, not really good. I was lucky tonight to get a win."
Orioles: Jones still looking for first homer in Oakland
Center fielder Adam Jones has homered in 19 different ballparks throughout his career, including every American League stadium in which he's played -- except for one.
In 85 career plate appearances over 24 games in Oakland, Jones has never sent a ball over the fences. Though he couldn't pinpoint the exact reason, Jones mentioned Oakland's unusually large amount of in-play foul territory and the West Coast air as two potential limitations.
"When you're trying to foul off the tough pitches, sometimes those balls hang up here," Jones said. "This park plays big. Each park is unique. The cold air on the West Coast kills the ball at night. Here, you have to hit the ball hard to get it out. When you hit one here, you deserve it."
Jones has hardly struggled in Oakland, as he demonstrated with his 3-for-5 performance Thursday night, but he remains in search of that elusive first home run.
"Home runs just happen," he said. "I'd be lying if I said I never swing for a home run, but I do try to just hit the ball hard. My time is coming."
Athletics: Melvin still confident in Young's bat
Along with playing on a new team this season, Athletics outfielder Chris Young has needed to adjust to playing not just one, but two new positions in the outfield.
After playing only center field over the first seven years of his career -- all with the Diamondbacks -- Young has made five starts each in left field and right field, as well as seven in center. Young is hitting just .164 on the young season, though manager Bob Melvin said all of the change surrounding Young could be partially to blame for the slow start.
"He's been playing quite a bit. This is a little difficult for him. It's the first time he's playing a different position. It's been a while since he's been with another team," Melvin said. "And he got off to a bit of a slow start. But my guess is you'll see contributions more so and more so with the more comfortable he gets with this team."
• The Athletics are 13-0-1 in the last 14 season series against the Orioles, dating back to the start of the 1999 season. Oakland has compiled an 82-39 record against Baltimore during that span.
• Oakland is 11-2 against AL West opponents, but fell to 2-8 against non-divisional foes with Thursday's series-opening loss.