It's gonna be hot out there again tonight, Wei-Yin Chen. Stay cool, stay hydrated and hope that your fly balls don't turn into home runs! (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Shameless self-promotion: if you'd like to help me out with FB shares, tweets, and/or +1's in the WNST competition today, I posted two things: an Ode to the Greatest Bullpen and some thoughts on the Baltimore Inferiority Complex.
With a starting pitching mess that's about equal to the batting mess currently taking the field for the Orioles, perhaps the arrival of the Cleveland Indians, with their .500 record but a -51 run differential will be what the O's need to get back on track. Not that the Orioles are great shakes themselves, with a -12 differential to go along with an 8 games over .500 record.
But one of their two good starters is taking the mound tonight: Wei-Yin Chen, a respectable 12th in the AL in ERA with 3.38. Chen has had games where he wasn't so great. A hot night may not be a cure for a good game from Chen, who could get tired himself, to say nothing of the fact that baseballs tend to fly out of the stadium on hot summer nights and he is a fly ball pitcher.
Are there home run threats to fear on the Indians? Fortunately, not so much. The team leader in home runs is Jason Kipnis, who has 11, and then it's Asdrubal Cabrera with 9 and a bunch of guys with 6 or fewer. If you have 6 or fewer home runs and it's the end of June, you are not a home run hitter. By comparison, the Orioles have five players with double digit home runs, led by Adam Jones' 19. Let's hope for a lot of easy fly balls.
If there are easy fly balls, some of them may go to Xavier Avery, who has returned to the big league club with Nick Johnson being placed on the 15-day DL with a right wrist sprain. The O's have had only Jones as a natural outfielder for quite some time now, and it's shown at times. Avery makes sense to re-appear, because there's no one to block his playing time at all, and maybe he's gone and worked on whatever they wanted him to work on at AAA. If you read Around the Minors for this week, you saw Avery had a good stretch at Norfolk.
The Indians starter is Zach McAllister. Let's not even pretend any of us knows anything about him. That's probably because he's made eight big league starts ever. Four of them are this year, time in which he's managed a 3.96 ERA while averaging a little more than 6 IP per start. That doesn't suck. His worst game of the year, 7 IP with 4 ER, was against Boston, so he might not be looking forward to seeing more of the AL East. Then again, as we know, the O's offense recently has been pathetic, especially with runners in scoring position.
Maybe they should start striking out again. They were scoring runs in spite of strikeouts while leading MLB in Ks. They have fallen to 8th, although I bet they've risen through the ranks in the "pathetic grounders to 2B or SS" category accordingly.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||CLEVELAND INDIANS|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Shin-Soo Choo - RF|
|Xavier Avery - LF||Asdrubal Cabrera - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Jason Kipnis - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Jose Lopez - 1B|
|Chris Davis - DH||Michael Brantley - CF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Shelley Duncan - DH|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Johnny Damon - LF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Jack Hannahan - 3B|
|Ryan Flaherty - RF||Lou Marson - C|