The last times that the Orioles have risen to a share of the AL East lead, they've lost it the next day, on account of their losing and New York winning. Perhaps tonight can break that pattern in some way. I am afraid of even typing that sentence, as if I will jinx it. Even a believer in the butterfly effect must strain to think that words typed in this post could affect the relatively-closed system that is a given baseball game. So it's probably OK.
In the end, as it does every night, it will come down to the players on the field and how they perform tonight. Miguel Gonzalez, who still does not exist as far as the SBN auto-tagger is concerned, will take the mound for the Orioles. A couple of weeks ago, when they really needed a win in the Bronx, he came to play with seven scoreless innings. Then he gave up five runs in 6.1 innings in Toronto, so who knows, really? But they need him to come up big again tonight, and maybe manage to baffle Rays hitters with pitches that induce weak fly balls, or get strikeouts.
The last time Gonzalez faced the Rays he also threw seven scoreless innings. That was in the Trop. The time before that, he gave up 7 runs in 2.2 innings. That was in Baltimore. Let's hope we can forget about that outing and not be reminded of it again tonight.
Alex Cobb is the Rays starting pitcher. He has started 19 games without ever facing the Orioles this year. What I can tell you is that the guys he's faced have put up a .269/.324/.397 slash line against him, and that even though he's right-handed, righty batters have a .284 batting average whereas lefty batters have a .258. But he walks lefties a lot more and the lefties hit for more power. All of this adds up to a 1.28 WHIP, which is OK, but not great, the kind of thing that gets you a 4.28 ERA and that sounds about right.
On the other hand, the Rays have won the last 7 games that Cobb has started. On the OTHER hand, one of those games saw Cobb give up 8 runs in 2.2 innings and the Rays only won because they ended up scoring 10 off the Angels. Even with that disaster outing in August, he had a 3.38 ERA for the month. That doesn't suck. Hopefully Cobb will suck tonight and Gonzalez will not.
Will lefties do well against Cobb? Will Gonzalez walk too many guys and give up home runs? Numbers give us general patterns that may even out over time, but of course they tell us nothing specific about what will happen in this game, tonight. Perhaps Orioles Magic and the Boston spoilers will come up big for a second straight night.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||B.J. Upton - CF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Jeff Keppinger - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||Ben Zobrist - SS|
|Matt Wieters - C||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Wilson Betemit - DH||Ben Francisco - LF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Carlos Pena - 1B|
|Chris Davis - RF||Ryan Roberts - 2B|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Matt Joyce - RF|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Jose Molina - C|