Wei-Yin Chen is back in an American League park, so he doesn't have to worry about this silly sac bunting stuff any more and can just focus on getting strikeouts and easy pop flies. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
The Orioles might be missing the big names of Strasburg and Gonzalez in this series, but that doesn't mean they will be facing Nationals pitchers who are slouches. Tonight's opponent is Edwin Jackson, who's done his part in a rotation that's been getting the best results out of any team in MLB. His 3.02 ERA is 4th-best on the Nats, which is one of those facts that just makes you scratch your head. Many stories are written about how we are in an era of the pitcher in baseball - and this year, finally, Baltimore is catching up a little bit - but it takes specific examples to drive it home. Consider that Jackson, with that ERA, is 28th in MLB.
If you want to judge only by ERA, then the O's starter, Wei-Yin Chen, comes out a little behind with his 3.36, but Chen has had to face American League lineups. When Chen is doing well, he does like he did in Atlanta, with some strikeouts, few walks, and lots of fly balls. He followed his starting rotation-mate Jason Hammel's shutout in Atlanta by featuring prominently in a team shutout as well. Last night, Hammel did not allow an earned run, and we can only hope he continues to be Hammel's equal in results.
Brace yourselves for yet another night of Chris Davis in right field, especially considering that, if Chen is on his game, there will be a lot of balls out to the outfield. I will say this for Davis: we haven't seen him make a mistake on a routine fly ball out there yet. But when he's out there, no fly ball or line drive feels like it could possibly be routine. Davis is also mired in an 0-24 slump, so either he's due to break out or he's going to keep racking up the hitless at-bats.
The Nats do not feature a fearsome offense, averaging about 3.8 runs per game. Then again, with the best rotation in baseball, one's need of runs is lessened. Their top performers against left-handed pitching this season have been Danny Espinosa (.364 batting average, 9 doubles, two HR and 10 walks in 65 PA) and Bryce Harper, who, funnily enough, are batting 1-2 in tonight's lineup.
Meanwhile, the Orioles bring the exact same lineup from last night into tonight's game. That would be the same lineup where I had to write about how most of the team was in a 3-109 combined slump. With eight hits last night, some of those desolate hitting numbers became a little bit less so, but not by much. If they can scratch out a couple of runs off Jackson, it could be enough, but O's fans would sure like it if the team could show Jackson a little of the American League hospitality that led many, including myself, to not want to see the Orioles sign Jackson as a free agent. Enough with this tense, low-scoring affair stuff. Can't we get a nice blowout?
Two words of caution about this game. First, the game will be airing on FOX, meaning that if you aren't in the market, you're probably screwed for trying to watch the game. Second, one of the announcers on Fox will be Bob Carpenter. That would be the same Carpenter whose bland-yet-grating Nationals homerism drives us to the brink of insanity every combined MASN telecast - only without Jim Palmer to offset him.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||WASHINGTON NATIONALS|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Danny Espinosa - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Bryce Harper - CF|
|Chris Davis - RF||Ryan Zimmerman - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Michael Morse - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Adam LaRoche - 1B|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Ian Desmond - SS|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Tyler Moore - LF|
|Nick Johnson - DH||Xavier Nady - RF|
|Steve Pearce - LF||Jesus Flores - C|