With rain postponing the game in New York to another day, the Orioles enter tonight's game a half-game back and with the chance to be tied for the American League East division lead once again by the end of the night - assuming, that is, they can manage to dispatch the Mariners in tonight's contest. Which they certainly need to do, because tomorrow New York will have two separate chances to beat lowly Toronto, and the O's themselves will be tackling the challenge of dethroning King Felix.
Here begins the portion of the post where we attempt to make some rudimentary assessment about the walking, talking human variables known as baseball players and how their assorted skills will interact in Safeco Field tonight. To wit:
Starting for the Orioles is Wei-Yin Chen. He has a 4.00 ERA on the nose in his rookie season, having faded somewhat in the stretch, but his last start he went 7.1 IP and only gave up two runs. That was good, but it was also a start he made with an extra day of rest, and that was Thursday. Today being Tuesday means this start will be made on normal rest. Chen has 175.2 IP right now and his career high in Japan was 188 in 2010. That was with starts every sixth day instead of every fifth day. Is Chen at the end of his rope pitching on normal rest?
A good sign for Chen is the same thing that was a good sign for Chris Tillman last night. This is the Mariners offense and the park is Safeco. With a vaguely competent defensive outfield - which, shockingly, McLouth, Jones and Chavez appear to constitute - his easy fly balls that he tends to get should play well. Assuming he is right, and gets the easy fly balls. The Mariners can still hit home runs, as we saw last night.
As for the Seattle starter, he's Erasmo Ramirez. You wouldn't have heard of him. He is a 22 year old pitching prospect who was signed out of Nicaragua in 2007. This year he made his major league debut. Over 13 games, with 5 starts, he has a 3.49 ERA, which does not suck. Neither does the 1.06 WHIP he has thus far allowed, thanks to a nice 1.86 BB/9. Among pitchers who have thrown qualified innings (1 per team game), there are only 11 with a better BB/9 than Ramirez, and only two of them have a better K/9 than Ramirez's 7.68. (Those two are Cliff Lee, which doesn't surprise me, and Joe Blanton, which does.) He is right-handed. And no offense to him or anything, but I hope that tonight is the worst game he will ever have in a long, generally prosperous career that involves losing painfully every time he happens to pitch against the Orioles.
Note to the Orioles hitters, which they may already know if they have read a scouting report on Ramirez, which I can never be sure that they have done: watch out for the slider.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Dustin Ackley - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Franklin Gutierrez - CF|
|Chris Davis - DH||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Jesus Montero - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Michael Saunders - LF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Justin Smoak - 1B|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Casper Wells - RF|
|Endy Chavez - RF||Miguel Olivo - C|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Brendan Ryan - SS|