Yesterday was one of those losses that would have been a gut punch regardless of the Orioles' current record, but it was all the more painful because the combined defensive and bullpen mishaps kept them from reaching the symbolic .500 milestone. Today, we find out what kind of stuff the team is made of. Will they rise to the challenge of turning around their fortunes in this rubber game against the Rays or will they prove to be like Orioles teams of years past where a tough loss sends the team into a downward spiral?
It'll be up to Brian Matusz to turn in a strong start to give the O's their best chance of success today and keep the losing from reaching "streak" territory. Brian's only making his third start of 2011. In his limited action, he's looked good against Seattle and Oakland. Of course, that's two terrible offenses. He also has yet to go six innings, not being fully stretched out after the intercostal strain cost him two months of the season. As always, the deeper he goes, the less bullpen we will have to contend with, especially with our two best relievers having been used in last night's loss. Have at it, Brian!
Wade Davis is starting for the Rays and he has the worst numbers among Rays starters at the moment. That's a good sign for the Orioles. Davis is sporting a 4.71 ERA over 72.2 innings pitched. He has given up at least four runs in four of his last five starts, including a 5.1 inning effort against the O's. On the season, Davis has made three starts against the O's and he's given up ten earned runs in 16.2 IP. If that pattern from recent history repeats itself then the O's could be staked to a good lead. You can never have too much of a lead.
Deployed today is what we might call the Orioles' "righty forfeit" lineup. Pie, Adams and Tatum is a rough bottom third of the lineup, on par with the kind of dreck we saw trotted out down there on more than just Sundays in 2010. At least J.J. Hardy is leading off again. Hardy was robbed twice last night by great plays from Rays fielders. Maybe his luck will even out today. After last night, and with a trip to Toronto looming, the Orioles could use some lucky breaks. Go O's!