Jason Hammel didn't make it onto the All-Star roster, but he'll be looking to out-duel Jered Weaver, who did. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Yesterday, I likened my following the Orioles to riding on a rollercoaster. That is a better comparison than I realized at the time, because I have spent today feeling like I was in an extremely long line for a coaster, sweating and generally roasting underneath an unforgiving sun while watching the rest of baseball getting to ride. Well, the time has finally arrived. It's our turn now.
Last night was a reminder that you can never predict baseball. You can certainly guess, but your guess will probably be wrong. Steve Pearce homering off C.J. Wilson? Miguel Gonzalez doing his impersonation of Chris Waters? (Hopefully he has more than one good start before all is said and done.) Yesterday's improbable victory may in fact tempt a person to commit the gambler's fallacy by making the assumption that the O's "burned up" their lucky win against a top-flight starting pitcher, so there's no way they could possibly win tonight.
Remember, this is not the case. The outcome of yesterday's contest is independent from what will happen today, more or less. And anything can happen. But it's true that the O's will be facing Jered Weaver on this evening, and he enters the game with the lowest ERA among starters in the American League. Weaver is a fly ball pitcher - only 38% ground balls - and he's got Mike Trout and Torii Hunter and occasionally Peter Bourjos patrolling the outfield behind him. Well, that helps. With a strong defense behind him - 22 runs saved by UZR - no wonder he can hold on to a .230 BABIP, which might otherwise seem nuts.
Good news for us O's fans is that the best starter on our favorite team, near-All-Star Jason Hammel, will be pitching in tonight's game. Hammel is 10th in the AL with his 3.43 ERA. A spread of 1.3 runs between the first and tenth place ERA people seems like a lot. Anyway, Hammel on the other hand is a ground ball pitcher, so if his sinker is sinking and he's getting ground balls, that'll probably be good for the O's, although who knows what might happen with Trout running around out there.
One other notable thing about tonight's game is that it marks the major league debut of Joe Mahoney, who has one of those names that's made for Baltimore. A couple of days ago there was a story about how like his whole family was flying out to California to watch. Hopefully they're still in town to see Mahoney now that he's actually getting to play! No pressure, Joe. You just get to bat eighth against the best pitcher in the American League. If Josh Bell can homer off Cliff Lee and Matt Angle can homer off Justin Verlander, then anything can happen. Maybe tonight, like last night, that "anything" will be something good.
|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 - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||Kendrys Morales - 1B|
|Jim Thome - DH||Mark Trumbo - LF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Alberto Callaspo - 3B|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Howie Kendrick - 2B|
|Joe Mahoney - 1B||Erick Aybar - SS|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Bobby Wilson - C|