Three series into the season and the Orioles are in first place, one game ahead of the New York Yankees. Beginning tonight the Orioles will face those Yankees in a three-game series on the road. Is there any chance the Orioles can take the series? Any hope they will leave New York at the top of the division?
Anything is possible, of course, that's why the games are played. I wouldn't have suspected that the 0-6 Red Sox would have taken the series from the Yankees, but they did. I wouldn't have expected the Red Sox to be 0-6 in the first place, but they were.
Despite the promising pitching so far (well, for the most part) and despite the O's record and place in the division, I certainly think that sweeping is a pipe dream, winning the series unlikely, and taking one game out of three the most probable. But even with my low expectations, I was surprised to see that the Orioles are only being given a 31% chance at victory tonight by AccuScore. Chris Tillman has certainly had his troubles this season, but he threw six no-hit innings in Tampa Bay and worked out of some tough early inning jams against the Tigers. And while A.J. Burnett has had two decent (not outstanding) games for the Yankees so far, he's pretty much the definition of a wild card.
It's easy to focus on the Yankees' pitching woes because they are so evident. After CC Sabathia there are four question marks, especially with the troubles that Phil Hughes has had so far. But I'm guessing the O's 31% chance of success has much more to do with the offense in New York, which on paper clearly outmatches the O's improved lineup and has the kind of players who will tear young pitchers apart. The Yankees can outhit the Orioles at pretty much every position on the field, which doesn't exactly make a fan's confidence level soar.
If the Orioles are ever going to compete, however, they have to learn to play with teams like these. And maybe I'm just a little crazy, but I think that if anyone can teach these guys how to do it, it's Buck Showalter (who will undoubtedly be yelling at Derek Jeter from the dugout this week).