Game 74: Reds (39-38) @ Orioles (34-39), 7:05pm

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For as much as I can be a pessimistic and totally depressed Orioles fan, I'm quick to seize any slight pretense for irrational optimism. If the O's are in some game down by six runs I might think to myself, "All we need is a grand slam and then we'll be within two runs!" Even though I know full well that in a game like that, we'll be lucky to get one man on base, let alone score any of the runs to pull back the deficit. The same thing happens over stretches of games as well, so after last night's win over the Reds I can say to myself, "Man, if we sweep the Reds and then St. Louis, we'll be back to .500!" Never mind that we'll be lucky to win two of the next five games.

Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo has thrown 200+ innings each of the last six seasons, which is a fairly impressive streak of innings-eating. Half the time he's been better than a mere innings eater, with ERAs below 4, but the other half he's been in the 4.50 range. This year, so far, is a 4.50+ year, with Arroyo on pace for another 200+ inning season and currently sporting a 4.86 ERA, and that when he gets to face a pitcher two to three times per start. He's a contact pitcher who enjoyed nice numbers in 2009 and 2010 because batted balls weren't as frequently falling in for hits, and this year they are with greater frequency so his numbers aren't as great.

The O's will need to get some runs off a soft starter like that, because Brian Matusz is pitching. It pains me to write that, but he really hasn't been great since coming off the DL and he hasn't seemed like he's fully back into the rhythm of pitching, nor has he fully re-acquired his arm strength or stamina. One good thing for Matusz is that the Reds' big power hitters, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, are lefties, so he'll have the platoon split working in his favor. The game will also have great weather for a June night, with a game-time temperature around 85 degrees and not a lot of humidity. That should keep him from getting tired as fast. Matusz needs to have a good outing and go farther into the game to save the bullpen, which had to throw seven innings last night.

Nick Markakis brings a fourteen-game hitting streak into the game. This would seem a lot more impressive if he wasn't also bringing a .344 slugging percentage into the game.

It's Buck Showalter bobblehead night. I kind of wish I could be there to get one. Go O's!

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