Can Jake Arrieta re-discover whatever form let him throw eight shutout innings against the Yankees? (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
If someone were to tell you at the start of the season that when the Orioles played the Phillies in early June, one team would be in first place of their division and the other would be in last, which would you have picked to be which? Yet the O's sit tied atop the AL East, and last-place Philadelphia is more games out of 4th place in the NL East (6 GB total, 4 GB of 4th place Miami) than the last-place team in the AL East is out of first, that being Boston (3 GB). In fact, the Phillies are the only sub-.500 team in the East in both the AL and NL.
The combined ERA of the starters in tonight's game is 10.80. Both starters have ERAs over 5. Joe Blanton's 5.27 is slightly more hideous when you consider that in the NL he has to face a pitcher 1/9th of the time, but Jake Arrieta's 5.53 is also not pretty. Remember any time over the last couple of years when someone in the media made a reference to the O's possibly being interested in acquiring Blanton and you had to fight back the urge to vomit? Yeah. Well, tonight the O's will get to put him to the test and see just how much they didn't want him.
Arrieta is a mystery, perhaps as much as Brian Matusz, only without a complete disaster of a year (yet, and may he never experience one.) How can the same pitcher who blanks the Yankees for eight innings, while striking out nine, be the same guy who can't get out of the 4th inning against the Rays, giving up seven earned runs? It's a struggle for consistency with Jake, from outing to outing as well as within a single outing. Sometimes we see him dominant; sometimes he is dominant early but falls apart. Other times he is just a mess all the way through. There's more of the latter two than the former, which is how you get a 5.53 ERA.
This is the O's second consecutive series against a last place Eastern division team. They took two out of three from Boston. Philly enters this series having lost six straight games. They need to stop their slump and the O's need to keep beating the teams that are struggling in order to break out of their own tough stretch (3-7 in the last 10 games).
There is a small Camden Chat invasion of Oriole Park at Camden Yards tonight. Not very organized though, but you might be able to find us and say hello. Speaking of which, it's just about time for me to be hitting the road. The O's are 4-0 when I have been there this season, so let's hope that record stays perfect.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES|
|Endy Chavez - LF||Jimmy Rollins - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Juan Pierre - LF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Hunter Pence - RF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Jim Thome - DH|
|Chris Davis - DH||Shane Victorino - CF|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Carlos Ruiz - C|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Ty Wigginton - 3B|
|Ryan Flaherty - RF||John Mayberry - 1B|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Mike Fontenot - 2B|