Game 104: Orioles (54-49) @ Yankees (60-42), 7:05pm

Chris Tillman braves the most wretched hive of scum and villainy tonight. He must be cautious. But not too cautious, because then he'll walk too many dudes. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
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Here's the real test for Chris Tillman. This is New York. This is the Yankees. He's had time to build up some confidence, or something resembling it, to the extent that matters. I don't know if it does matter. Tillman does not strike me as a guy whose problem is thinking too much, as the beat writers often say about Jake Arrieta. He will put his increased velocity and somewhat better off-speed arsenal to the test against one of the best offenses in baseball in a park that comically favors left-handed power.

At the same time, we should be careful at all times to put too much stock in the performance in any one game for a starting pitcher. It's just one game! Brian Matusz can fool you for one game (although he didn't fool anyone in his game in AAA last night). Tommy Hunter can fool you for one game. All we can do is hope for some good signs for Tillman - like maybe the slightest shred of resilience after the inevitable moment where poor defense lets him down, as it seems like must happen because this is the Orioles we're talking about here.

The O's will be facing Ivan Nova, whose existence as a pitcher perpetuates the on-going joke that is W-L records for starters. He is 10-4 with a 4.08 ERA. I'm sure he's just willed his offense to score so many runs for him. He really knows how to win out there. Don't say that seriously or I will laugh at you. Nova has had one good month this year, and that was July, when he made five starts and had a 1.26 ERA. Shockingly, three of the five starts in his good month were against NL teams. It'll be his fourth start against the Orioles - 18.2 innings pitched and 12 earned runs surrendered. That was back in April and May, when the O's offense was doing better.

One bit of news that you may have missed today with all of the trade deadline mania is that Jim Thome will be heading to the DL due to his neck spasm issue. He was reported to have received a cortisone shot, which did not help, and may be in line to get an epidural. This clears the roster space for the return of Robert Andino - so in addition to collecting slow 1B (at best)/DH types, it seems the Orioles are also collecting light-hitting 2B/SS types.

I like the Orioles' chances in this game if Tillman can perform well. That's a big if. Actually, I like the Orioles' chances for the rest of the season if Tillman can perform well - another big if. I don't know, man. All I can do is watch the games. Maybe tonight's will be a good game, or maybe I'll wish I was watching tape-delayed women's gymnastics instead.


Lineup


It kind of doesn't seem fair that a team with that lineup is in playoff contention. I am not sure whether I'm talking about the O's lineup or the Yankees. Maybe both.

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