The last surviving knuckleballer in MLB is R.A. Dickey, and he's one of the greatest stories of the season so far. How many times will Orioles hitters strike out against him tonight? Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The afternoon played out a little bit like this: first, the Baltimore sports media that travels did their "tweet the lineup within 90 seconds of one another" routine. Next, about 20 minutes later, the Mets reporter for ESPN New York wrote that the Mets had not yet posted a lineup because they were not certain that Jake Arrieta, the scheduled Orioles starter, would in fact be starting the game. Then, an Orioles writer reported that the Mets were told that Arrieta may not start. Finally, about two and a half hours prior to the first pitch, the Orioles media contingent discovered that Arrieta ate a bad pork chop Saturday night, had food poisoning yesterday, but would be starting tonight. Nice work.
So the excuse is already there if Arrieta struggles tonight. Maybe it's even a legitimate one, though many people won't want to hear it. We've seen enough of Jake this year to see the flashes of potential brilliance. We've also seen enough of him to know that sometimes he just doesn't have it. The debate rages on due to his nice-looking peripheral stats even as his ERA resides north of 5 and has for some time. His strikeouts are up and his walks are down, so what is his problem? Hopefully the Orioles have been working on trying to fix that. Maybe they even will.
We will need Jake to be good tonight. The O's hitters will be facing knuckleballer sensation R.A. Dickey, who is one of the greatest success stories of the season - and, based on reports of his using the theme music to Game of Thrones as his warmup music and naming his bat Orcrist (from The Hobbit), he is a nerd after my own heart. Dickey has thrown 90 innings over his 13 starts, averaging nearly 7 innings per start. His 2.20 ERA is 4th in MLB and his 90 strikeouts are 10th in MLB. The Orioles remain the MLB leaders in strikeouts for hitters. I think we know where this is going, especially since Dickey's 12.6% swinging strike percentage is tops in baseball as well.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, while the Mets are 8-15 against LHP, the only one they will see in this series is Matusz. They're 27-17 against RHP, which is an impressive but not unbeatable percentage. If their right-handers have good outings, the O's can win these games even in spite of the opposing starting pitchers. The Mets bullpen has been terrible to this point. The O's RHP the next two games are Arrieta and Hunter, so, you know.
The O's have six more interleague games remaining and they will not face another AL East team until July 24. This is the time to rack up some wins and keep racking them up. Can they find a way to do it tonight? Knuckle under!
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||NEW YORK METS|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Kirk Nieuwenheis - CF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Jordany Valdespin - 2B|
|Chris Davis - RF||David Wright - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Lucas Duda - RF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Ike Davis - 1B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Scott Hairston - LF|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Josh Thole - C|
|Steve Pearce - LF||Omar Quintanilla - SS|
|Jake Arrieta - P||R.A. Dickey - P|