Our hope for tonight is mostly that the Orioles will keep the foot down on the accelerator. After a game that ended two minutes into today, they'll be back 19 hours later to go for the sweep. If you want them to stay at it, you may not be happy to hear that the O's were given off from batting practice today. Well, they probably do need the rest, but nonetheless, this is not the time to coast. There can be no coasting from here to the end of the season: every game matters, even if you've won the last four.
The biggest story of the game, which has already been beaten to death, will be the first major league start of Steve Johnson, which comes 23 years after his father, MASN analyst Dave Johnson, earned his first win in MLB for the 1989 Orioles. The elder Johnson pitched a complete game in that 1989 game, and the present day O's could certainly take that from the younger one. Steve Johnson, of course, will be facing a team that's collectively batting .233/.294/.361 - so that is a good sign. Good luck, Steve.
O's hitters will be facing our old friend Kevin Millwood, who was paid $9 million by the Orioles in 2010 to be a mentor, or something like that, but what actually happened is he was pretty bad, with an ERA over 5. I mostly hated him, in the way that you hate bad baseball players as baseball players but not as human beings, of course. Anyway, Millwood was not good here, but he's been decent this year, somehow, and surprisingly has a better ERA on the road (3.74) than at home (4.33).
Not much would be more Orioles than having a former player who was terrible here come in and dominate them a couple of years later. That would be the Orioles of old, at any rate. We've still seen those guys at times this year, for all the unreal victories we have witnessed the team rack up through the season. So far he's avoided lots of home runs, and the O's rely heavily on home runs. With a rookie making his first start, we'd like the offense to get as many runs as possible. Maybe it will even happen.
Tommy Hunter and Miguel Socolovich will be waiting in the bullpen should Johnson stumble. That reads more like a threat than news. Play hard for that sweep, boys - if the Yankees happen to lose again, you'll be 3.5 games back, and every win is that much more room to play around with the wild card.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Dustin Ackley - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Michael Saunders - CF|
|Chris Davis - DH||Jesus Montero - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||John Jaso - C|
|Matt Wieters - C||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Mike Carp - 1B|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Trayvon Robinson - LF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Eric Thames - RF|
|Omar Quintanilla - 2B||Munenori Kawasaki - SS|