We're halfway there and we may very well be living on a prayer. This game marks the beginning of the second half, in absolute numerical terms, of the Orioles season. If they matched their pace from the first half they would be 88-74 at the end of the conclusion of the season, which would leave just about everyone except for dan o'hare satisfied - though if the O's came up a couple of games short of the playoffs, maybe we wouldn't be satisfied after all.
It takes a lot of faith to believe that the O's will just duplicate their record from the first half in the remainder of the season. Requiring a bit less faith than yesterday, however, because Chris Tillman's dominant effort, even if it was against the Mariners, is more than I believed him to be capable of doing. One of the points we have been flogging throughout the season is that the team is only going to go as far as the starting pitching takes them, and if one more gap-plugger is unearthed in Norfolk in the form of Tillman, that's good.
That said, perhaps the conventional wisdom is wrong, because the Orioles offense continues to be the cumulative worst in MLB by Fangraphs WAR. O's hitters are worth a total of 6.2 WAR. By comparison, the best team in MLB in this category is St. Louis, with 18.3. Even if you don't really like WAR, the O's still have the 5th-worst team OBP in baseball with a .305, and unlike in the Seattle series, they won't be playing one of the four teams who are worse off than they are.
It's off to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim until the All-Star Break. They are led statistically by the superlative talent of Mike Trout. Mark Trumbo is having an outstanding sophomore season. Albert Pujols is getting somewhere. All of these guys will be looking to tee off against Jake Arrieta tonight. I had previously argued against sending Arrieta to the minors, but if he can undergo the kind of transformation that Tillman did in the minors this season then maybe that's where he needs to be, if only there was someone down there worth sending up to replace him.
Starting for the Angels is Garrett Richards. I will not pretend to have heard of this person before right this second. He was a supplemental round pick for the Angels in 2009 and made his debut last season. This year he has pitched in six games, with five starts. He only has a 2.81 ERA in that time, which sounds good, but he has a WHIP of exactly 1.5, with 31 hits and 17 walks over 32 innings. Richards has allowed sixteen runs, but only ten are earned. Well, that looks like a defense that screwed him in a way that was actually reflected on the stat sheet.
Maybe the Orioles will get some of those moments tonight. Maybe they will take walks and get hits against a guy who seems to be hittable. Ah, it's nice to dream, isn't it?
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM|
|Xavier Avery - LF||Mike Trout - CF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Torii Hunter - RF|
|Chris Davis - RF||Albert Pujols - 1B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Kendrys Morales - DH|
|Jim Thome - DH||Mark Trumbo - LF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Alberto Callaspo - 3B|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Howard Kendrick - 2B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Erick Aybar - SS|
|Robert Andino - 2B||John Hester - C|
Note that the above listed lineup is incorrect for the Orioles. Chris Davis was a late scratch. Ryan Flaherty is batting 8th and in RF. Matt Wieters is bumped up to 3rd, Betemit to 6th and Reynolds to 7th.