Two pitchers with a lot in common, including being totally unfamiliar with the other's current team, are scheduled to square off Friday night when the San Francisco Giants host the Baltimore Orioles for the opener of a three-game interleague series.
The first meeting of the clubs in exactly fouryears is expected to feature a pair of Northern California natives on the hill, with Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer (5-2, 4.58 ERA) being matched up against fellow righty Logan Webb (4-5, 2.75) of the Giants.
The teams are coming off similar months that have positioned each in playoff-contending position. The Giants went 17-12 in May, scoring 131 runs, while the Orioles went 16-12, scoring 134.
Kremer and Webb were a big part of that team success.
Kremer went 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five May starts, not allowing more than three runs in any of them.
The 27-year-old native of Stockton, Calif., has never faced the Giants. In fact, he will be making his first big-league career start in Northern California, where he was a standout at San Joaquin Delta Community College after a prep career at Lincoln High.
Kremer grew up 70 miles south of Webb, who went right from his standout prep days at Rocklin High near Sacramento to the Giants as a fourth-round pick in 2014. They faced each other in the Single-A California League All-Star Game four years later.
Webb, who is a year younger than Kremer, was a candidate for National League Pitcher of the Month for May after going 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA in five starts. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven consecutive starts, the longest active such streak in the majors.
He has never pitched against the Orioles.
Baltimore flew into San Francisco late Thursday after a disappointing 2-4 homestand in which it lost series to the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Guardians, winning once against each team.
The Orioles' last trip was an impressive one, having gone 5-1 against the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees.
Wednesday's 12-8 loss to the Guardians prevented the Orioles from tying the franchise record for most wins before June 1, set in 1997 when the team won 36 times. That didn't keep manager Brandon Hyde from looking back upon May fondly.
"We've played really well this month," he said after the defeat. "These last two series weren't our best. Those are gonna happen. We're not gonna win every series the rest of the year, and we're gonna have tough games. But I think, for the most part this month, I was really happy with how we played and, hopefully, we can start off the month of June on the right note."
The Giants likewise flipped the calendar on a down note, having lost two in a row at home to the Pittsburgh Pirates after having won 11 of 14.
The Giants won three of Webb's five starts in May, and lost the other two 2-1 and 1-0. He credits keeping the ball in the ballpark as the key to his improvement over a 1-5 start, during which he allowed seven homers in six games as opposed to just one in May.
"The home runs at the beginning (of the season), I was really struggling with that. It was something I'm not used to," Webb said. "Finding the slider was the big (difference). I've really honed in on that."
--Field Level Media