The last few days have felt like the semi-lucid time when you are waking from a particularly vivid fever dream. Your loved one is there caring for you, keeping the cold cloth on your forehead, piling up the blankets as needed, as you blearily open your eyes. You don't know what day it is. You're fairly sure you know what month and year it is, but not entirely. You were so immersed in that dream that it was real, man. That world was really happening. "I saw Chris Davis get a win as a relief pitcher!" you exclaim. Everyone laughs nervously. To them, this is a further reminder of how close they came to losing you. Your palm is kissed; relief pours from the eyes of your loved one. You have survived, but you are back in the world you always knew instead of that fantastical place you dreamed of.
Remember when I told myself to stop being melodramatic yesterday? I guess I didn't listen. The fact is that the Orioles are still only riding a three-game losing streak, which is the worst losing streak of the season so far. All it takes is a win tonight to stop that and get some semblance of good feelings building again.
A key player in making that happen will be Jake Arrieta, making his 11th start of the season. Jake has one big problem this year, and that problem is home runs. He's allowed 9 in the 61 innings he's pitched this season. He is facing a Blue Jays offense that has hit 68 home runs in their 49 games. That's a lot of home runs. They are just behind the Orioles in that category - the O's having hit 72 home runs on the season, which is no longer first in MLB. They have been passed by New York and Texas in the last few days. Arrieta needs to limit these to lower a 4.87 ERA. In particular, he needs to watch out for Edwin Encarnacion and his 16 home runs. Seriously, what the heck is up with that? Jose Bautista has a respectable 12 home runs.
Ricky Romero is starting for Toronto. Command is his most significant problem in the 2012 season: a 5.1 BB/9 rate that is significantly worse than his career total. In his last four starts, he's walked at least four batters. In his last start, he walked seven batters. The Orioles may be just the team he wants to see, as they remain in the bottom third of MLB in walk rate - though their 7.9% is not exactly butting up against the dregs of the league (the worst in the AL is Kansas City with a 6.9%). Romero has yet to face the O's this year. He enters the game with a 3.86 ERA.
One interesting subplot to tonight's game will be Adam Jones' 19-game hitting streak and whether he can continue it. I have yet to call attention to it, so if he goes 0-for-tonight, you can blame me for the jinx.
There's no such thing as a must-win game in May, but I'd really, really like it if the Orioles would win tonight. Maybe they'll oblige me or maybe I'll just keep waiting for the inevitable doom.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Kelly Johnson - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Yunel Escobar - SS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Jose Bautista - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Edwin Encarnacion - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Colby Rasmus - CF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||J.P. Arencibia - C|
|Chris Davis - DH||Brett Lawrie - 3B|
|Wilson Betemit - LF||David Cooper - 1B|
|Steve Tolleson - 3B||Rajai Davis - LF|