Does this look like a #5 hitter? Well, he is today! (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
When this series against the Angels began, there was almost a little swagger in the Orioles media as they related to us facts like, "The last time the Orioles won each leg of a three-city road trip was in 1998." Now, after two straight losses, that's blown, so instead the statistic we hear today is, "The last time the Orioles went on a 10-game road trip and finished with a record of .500 or above was Sept. 13-23, 2004." Which, of course, the Orioles would need a win today for a 6-4 record on the road trip. Otherwise, they will be a mere 5-5, but a worrisome 5-5, because in the losses they have revealed flaws that will likely plague the team for the remainder of the season. You and I both know exactly what those flaws are, so let's not dwell on them.
Trying to play the role of stopper today will be Wei-Yin Chen. From what we've seen of him so far, I like Chen. Maybe I just want to believe in Chen. He seems like he still needs to adjust to the major leagues, but when he does he will truly be a nice addition. The Orioles have him for three prime baseball-playing years at what could prove to be a downright bargain price. That's what I tell myself. It's also possible, and perhaps even quite likely, that I am insane.
The Angels starter this afternoon is Dan Haren. He's another one of those pitchers who you don't really think of as one of the top arms in the game, but when you sit down and look at his statistics, you think, "I'd love to see an O's pitcher looking like that." Since 2005, the fewest innings that Haren has thrown in a season is 216 IP. In those seven seasons, only once has he had an ERA over 4 and four of the seven years he was at 3.33 ERA or less. When he spent three seasons in the NL West, he was in the top 10 in MLB in strikeouts each season. Last year with the Angels, he was 20th with a mere 192 Ks. Since our Gregorian calendars have turned into the 2000s, there have been two Orioles pitcher seasons to exceed that number of Ks: Mike Mussina in 2000 (210 K) and Erik Bedard in 2007 (221 K).
Haren's been slow out of the gate compared to his rotation-mates like last night's starter, Jered Weaver, and C.J. Wilson. Both of those guys are sporting sub-3.00 ERAs. Haren sits at a 4.76, or as last year's Orioles would have said, "#3 starter." He looks to get back on form. The Orioles offense, save for a nice home run each by Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters, has been mostly dead in the night games this series. Will the bats wake up for a Sunday afternoon? Damn you, marine layer!
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM|
|Endy Chavez - LF||Erick Aybar - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Howie Kendrick - 2B|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Albert Pujols - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||Torii Hunter - RF|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Mark Trumbo - 1B|
|Mark Reynolds - DH||Vernon Wells - LF|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Alberto Callaspo - 3B|
|Ronny Paulino - C||Bobby Wilson - C|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Peter Bourjos - CF|