Halfway through their six-game swing through Chicago, the Orioles are perfect. The second leg kicks off Friday as Baltimore heads to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs and a couple of familiar faces.
The weekend will start against Jake Arrieta, who pitched for the Orioles for more than three seasons before being traded in 2013. This season, Arrieta (6-4) has a 2.61 ERA and has shown the kind of consistent success that often eluded him while in Baltimore.
"It's no surprise," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "Wish him well. I like Jake. We all pull for Jake."
This will be Arrieta's first start against his former team, and he guessed that the last time he faced the Orioles' hitters was in Spring Training intraquad games. And he is certainly not surprised at the success Baltimore has had this season.
"They have a good rotation," Arrieta said. "They have four guys under a 4.00 [ERA] pitching in the AL East, which is pretty impressive. You combine that with their defense. They were either first or second in the league in defensive fielding percentage last year. You've got the defense, you've got the arms, and then the offense they have."
On Sunday, the Orioles will square off against Tsuyoshi Wada, who signed with the team from Nippon Professional Baseball before the 2012 season but never made it to the Majors.
On Friday, Kevin Gausman will start for the Orioles. The rookie didn't have his best stuff last time out, but still managed two-hit ball over six innings for his best start since the All-Star break.
Baltimore hopes this is the start of extended success for Gausman. The O's moved Ubaldo Jimenez from the starting rotation to the bullpen Tuesday, which means Gausman will play a critical role as they try to build on a nine-game lead in the American League East.
"He's going to be pitching at a time he's never pitched before in his life," Showalter said. "When you look for young players, you look for, 'Can they make that adjustment when they aren't throwing 95 [mph]? Can they keep you engaged in the game? Or are they going to implode and say, I just didn't have my good stuff today?'
"Well, the game doesn't stop if you don't have your good stuff. You have to say, 'How am I going to survive?'"
Cubs: Castro placed on bereavement list
Shortstop Starlin Castro was placed on the bereavement list Thursday to travel back to the Dominican Republic after one of his relatives and three friends were killed in a car accident Wednesday.
"He was very upset," manager Rick Renteria said Thursday.
The Cubs recalled infielder Logan Watkins from Triple-A Iowa to take Castro's spot on the roster. Players on the bereavement list can miss from three games to seven games.
Orioles: Cruz reclaims home run lead
A day after Jose Abreu joined Nelson Cruz atop the AL home run leaderboard with 32, Cruz put himself in a class of his own.
Cruz blasted a go-ahead two-run home run to left in the fourth inning of a 4-3 win against the White Sox on Wednesday night and sits alone with 33 home runs.
The 33 homers also match a career high for the outfielder, who has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games and has four home runs in August.
• Arrieta went 20-25 with a 5.36 ERA in parts of four seasons in Baltimore.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.