In this picture, Wei-Yin Chen looks a lot like Orioles fans have felt so far in the Texas series. Can he change their fortune tonight? (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
If it's true that the Orioles team is exhausted from the weekend's marathon series against Boston, then a twi-night doubleheader in the midst of a 20-day stretch of games with no scheduled off day - though of course they got one last night thanks to the rain - is probably not what they want in order to recuperate. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need.
What the Orioles need this afternoon is a strong outing from Wei-Yin Chen, who will be appearing for the first time in his career against the Texas lineup. The O's pitching has thus far been shellacked in this series. Chen has tended towards being a fly ball pitcher in his brief time in MLB. Will that be a bad combination against the home run-hitting juggernaut that is Josh Hamilton? Well, Chen has this in his favor: the lefty-lefty matchup. Against righties, Hamilton turns 19.5% of fly balls into home runs in his career. Against lefties, he only turns 18% of fly balls into home runs. Wait, what? That was my vaunted consolation statistic? He even hits fly balls at roughly the same rate against lefties and righties. F***.
So maybe it'll be up to the Orioles hitters to get something done against Colby Lewis, who's off to a great start to his 2012: 39.1 IP over six starts in which he's managed a 2.97 ERA. If there's one flaw, it's that he's already allowed six home runs. A lineup with Ryan Flaherty leading off is just the sort of thing that will strike fear into the hearts of Orioles fans. Not so much fear for Lewis. Here is a little silver lining for facing Lewis: he's probably been absurdly lucky with stranding men on base, a LOB% of 88.1 that is remarkably higher than his career rate. If you are inclined to believe that the silver lining is an impending lightning strike, you might consider that Lewis has a K/BB rate of 6.20 going up against the O's offense, which has one of the highest strikeout rates and one of the lowest walk rates.
Monday's Oriole-beater, ex-Oriole Brandon Snyder, will see action in the opening game. He's been appearing mostly against left-handed pitchers, and we saw what he can do against them on Monday.
With the recently-demoted (and re-summoned) Tommy Hunter scheduled to start the nightcap, the O's are in desperate need to halt the two-game skid before it stretches out to four games, as it easily could by night's end. Whether they have it in them to put one over on Texas and salvage something out of this series is what we will find out in the next several hours. Our hopeful hearts and our rational minds will probably be sending us conflicting messages in the meantime.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TEXAS RANGERS|
|Ryan Flaherty - LF||Ian Kinsler - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Elvis Andrus - SS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Josh Hamilton - LF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Adrian Beltre - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Michael Young - DH|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Nelson Cruz - RF|
|Chris Davis - DH||Yorvit Torrealba - C|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Brandon Snyder - 1B|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Craig Gentry - CF|