When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I had the same teacher for social studies: Mr. Thursz. As it happened, the time I was in 7th and 8th grade spanned the fall of 1995 through the spring of 1997. Before this year, that was the last time it was good to be an Orioles fan. I have mentioned this teacher before, if not by name; he was the guy who announced he was failing us all after the Jeffrey Maier game, because he'd had about enough of 13-year-olds.
One of the other things I remember him saying was at the start of the 1996 season. He was very optimistic about the O's chances that year and he would joke that he was predicting a 159-3 record for them. "A few times they're going to run into David Cone and Andy Pettitte," he would say, if asked why the three losses.
Sixteen years later, here we are, still with much to worry about Andy Pettitte of the Yankees. The 12 games he pitched this season saw him record a 2.87 ERA across 75.1 IP. That's a solid effort from the veteran lefty, who was around to pitch against the O's in those 1996 playoffs. You probably remember him giving the O's fits all through his career. He did not pitch against them this year, and if you want to poke a hole in his stats you might note how often he faced offenses that appear to be inferior. His last three starts, for instance, saw two against Toronto and one against Minnesota, in September, when those teams were clearly lacking the talent to compete and had little to play for.
The thing about baseball stats, which we often mention but don't really internalize, is that over one game none of them matter. All that matters is how these guys will do against him tonight. Nobody knows. We can certainly hope it goes better than last night against CC Sabathia.
Assuming some moderate level of competence is demonstrated against Pettitte, it'll be very important for Wei-Yin Chen to have a good game and help the Orioles towards avoiding an 0-2 deficit in the series. Of course, the next three games (if three are necessary) would be played in Yankee Stadium. So, you know - good luck, Chen. He had his struggles in September. He looked like a guy who needed extra rest at times, and at least once extra rest wasn't good enough. He last pitched on October 1. Here we are on October 8. That is enough rest to tempt you to have a good feeling about Chen tonight, especially on a cold night where home runs - his big weakness - might be suppressed.
The deeper Chen goes, the better, considering the O's best relievers were used last night. Then again, there's an off day tomorrow, so maybe there is no worry about having guys go back-to-back here? I don't know, man. The last time I had to think about strategy in a playoff series, I hated writing. Now look at me. I've come a long way - but here I am, still fretting about Andy Pettitte. Plus ça change...
If you are at the game, stay warm and get home safe later on. If you're at home, buckle up. One way or another, I think we're in for another heck of a ride.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Derek Jeter - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Ichiro Suzuki - LF|
|Chris Davis - RF||Alex Rodriguez - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Nick Swisher - RF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Mark Teixeira - 1B|
|Jim Thome - DH||Russell Martin - C|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Curtis Granderson - CF|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Eduardo Nunez - DH|