Phillies hitters will be cocked and ready to fire against Jason Hammel, but maybe he can get them to misfire. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
One side of the spectrum of the inherent injustice of pitcher won-loss records is Clay Buchholz, sporting his 6-2 record with his 5.77 ERA. On the other side is the starter the Orioles will be facing today: old friend Cliff Lee, who has an 0-3 record, winless in nine starts despite a 2.92 ERA and a WHIP of 1.01. Back on April 18, he even threw 10 shutout innings and this was still not enough, because his offense was similarly shut out, so he took a no decision in a game that was ultimately lost in the bullpen.
Lee is a pitcher against whom the Orioles of recent years had a bizarre level of success. Do you think we can get a hold of Josh Bell just for this one game? Even if not, maybe the team can use the same formula of the past. One thing is still true: the Orioles still like to swing at baseballs. Another thing that is still true is that Cliff Lee throws strikes. Lee has walked 11 batters in 64.2 IP. So if Lee throws strikes and the Orioles swing at baseballs, then they may actually hit the baseballs instead of the pitches just popping into the catcher's mitt.
Of course, there are plenty of ways a pitcher can get by even within the strike zone, and Lee, with 66 strikeouts, can do this. A hitter might swing over a change-up or have his knees buckled by a curveball that drops into the strike zone, or even just swing through a fastball. But maybe they will connect today and leave Cliff Lee mystified at how he gets torched by the team leading MLB in both strikeouts and GIDPs.
Any offense the Orioles muster today will support the cause of Jason Hammel, who has only gone at least six innings in two of his last five starts ever since he had his turn skipped with right knee soreness. Has he entirely recovered from that problem yet? Is he just in a tough patch? I don't know, man.
Hopefully he pitches a good game, because the team will probably need it for victory. The cast of characters who were a part of those inexplicably beating Cliff Lee games are mostly not present any more. There is no power imbued in an Orioles uniform that unlocks the secrets of hitting against Lee. It's just been a number of generally poor hitters having great days out of nowhere. We still see those types in the lineup, but it's different poor hitters. They could very easily find themselves on the wrong end of a perfect game, much to the delight of the red tide that has washed over the stadium this weekend.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Jimmy Rollins - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Juan Pierre - LF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Hunter Pence - RF|
|Matt Wieters - DH||Jim Thome - DH|
|Ronny Paulino - C||Shane Victorino - CF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Carlos Ruiz - C|
|Steve Pearce - LF||Ty Wigginton - 3B|
|Steve Tolleson - 3B||Hector Luna - 1B|
|Endy Chavez - RF||Michael Martinez - 2B|