Though the occasion was long overdue, perhaps the return of Mike Mussina to be honored with induction in the Orioles Hall of Fame represents the beginning of the burying of the hatchet between the franchise's best pitcher of the last two decades and the owner that essentially drove him out of town. It's probably fitting that this game could get rained out. We often hear of the good drainage of Camden Yards and indeed, games can be played in all but the worst of rain showers.
There is also some recent precedent for the O's not wanting to postpone a game with a pre-game ceremony component. It didn't work out too well for anyone who waited out that day. Today, who knows?
The Blue Jays have gotten healthy just in time for this series. So goes the Orioles' luck. Brandon Morrow returns tonight from the disabled list. He had been there with an oblique injury. Presumably he is ready now. If the O's are lucky he will return from that oblique injury about as successfully as, uhh, actually I'm getting my muscles confused because with Brian Matusz it was the intercostal. The point here is Morrow had made 13 starts before going on the DL and has a 3.01 ERA on the season. That does not suck.
We already know that the O's have to win a game tonight (if one is played) to keep pace in the wild card race, because Oakland beat Tampa Bay in afternoon action. The A's performance against the Rays in this weekend's series so far has brought Tampa back to the pack a bit, keeping both wild card spots feeling in play. Again, every game is a game the O's need to win. Every loss will make their postseason dreams - and ours - that much harder to realize.
With that in mind, and facing the powerful tandem (held mostly quiet last night) of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the Orioles starter is Steve Johnson. His is already the face that has launched a thousand stories comparing this year to the 1989 Why Not? Orioles - and with his dad having pitched on that team, no surprise there. This is a team they need to beat and a lot of whether that happens is in the younger Johnson's hands. No pressure or anything.
The same Orioles lineup that scored six runs off of Carlos Villanueva will tackle the challenge of Morrow tonight. Morrow is a righty, same as Villanueva, but Morrow throws more fastballs and his are 4mph harder, on average. If he hits his spots and doesn't hang any sliders in his return from the DL, he could make quick work of O's hitters. If he struggles, Chris Davis and others will be waiting to hit some more home runs. All of this assuming the rain doesn't push back the fun to a possible doubleheader tomorrow or later on in the remainder of the season.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Rajai Davis - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Mike McCoy - CF|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Jose Bautista - CF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Edwin Encarnacion - 1B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Kelly Johnson - 2B|
|Chris Davis - DH||Yunel Escobar - SS|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Moises Sierra - DH|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Omar Vizquel - 3B|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Jeff Mathis - C|