Let us never speak of last night again.
Among the several pleasant surprises there have been for the Orioles so far this season is Wei-Yin Chen, tonight's starter. We saw him most recently as the only O's pitcher who was capable of remotely stymieing the Texas offense. This is no less impressive as the days have passed. Tonight he'll put his 2.68 ERA on the line in a game where the O's could really use a stopper to go deep in to a game to rest a tired bullpen.
CC Sabathia is the Yankees starter. We may have to consider the possibility that he's a robot. Sabathia's already thrown 51.1 innings across 7 starts, which is impressive. That is a workhorse. The dude is pulling this off while striking out over a batter per inning. In fact, with 53 strikeouts, he's 4th in MLB in that category, and the three guys ahead of him have all notched 8 starts on the year. With at least five strikeouts tonight, Sabathia will lead MLB in strikeouts. In a stroke of good fortune for him, he'll be facing the Orioles, the team with the 4th-most strikeouts in MLB.
For all of this, Sabathia has a 3.51 ERA on the season. Bad luck? At a 1.75 BB/9 (a very good rate) and with getting nearly 50% ground balls, this is probably the case. This guy is good. He has never thrown fewer than 180 innings in a season in his career. He hasn't thrown fewer than 200 innings since 2006. The highest ERA he's had since 2005 is his current ERA. With 2,070 career strikeouts, he ranks 60th all-time. The number of baseball players you'd want to be on the hook for $99 million in guaranteed salary after this current season concludes is very small. Sabathia's track record suggests he should be worth every penny.
But maybe the Orioles hitters can light him up tonight. Here we grasp at some meaningless batter-pitcher matchup numbers because they look pretty. In 39 plate appearances against Sabathia, Adam Jones has batted .333/.385/.583 with two home runs. Robert Andino's 18 plate appearances against Sabathia have seen him bat .389 and slug .611. Andino is leading off tonight, incidentally. If you hear someone suggest that his numbers against Sabathia are why Andino's leading off, consider ignoring that person's opinion about baseball. Put them on probation, at the very least.
Andino's been getting time batting leadoff against LHP over the last couple of weeks. In 2011, he had a .367 OBP against LHP. That was over 161 plate appearances, so it's still probably not statistically significant, but there have been worse leadoff hitters for the Orioles this year with worse reasons justifying their position as leadoff batter. A small step of progress? Maybe so.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Derek Jeter - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Nick Swisher - RF|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Alex Rodriguez - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Mark Teixeira - 1B|
|Wilson Betemit - 1B||Curtis Granderson - CF|
|Bill Hall - DH||Andruw Jones - DH|
|Steve Tolleson - 3B||Jayson Nix - LF|
|Xavier Avery - LF||Chris Stewart - C|