Jason O. Watson - Getty Images
One's first instinct might still be to look and see that Randy Wolf is starting in today's game and assume it's the Orioles just playing out the string. This is what we are used to. Of course, this is not the case, as the O's remain a game behind New York for the division lead, and they need to win every day in hopes that the Yankees will stumble in order to pull back into a tie. That hasn't really worked out lately, as both the O's and the Yankees have won 8 of their last 10 games, but when you're in a tight playoff chase for the wild card as well, an 8-2 record is still pretty good. There is some daylight now.
Speaking of daylight, it's an afternoon game today. I hope you didn't forget! Wolf will be deployed to take on what's left of that Boston lineup. That doesn't mean he won't suck. There may be a quick leash. Dylan Bundy may once again be on stand-by. Who knows, really? Fenway seems a bit less forgiving than Oakland for an underperforming lefty fly ball pitcher. The Green Monster is always there. There is the possibility that the Red Sox have mostly given up on this season. Even Jon Lester's old hex on the Orioles wasn't enough to save them last night.
Today, the nemesis is Aaron Cook, who is kind of notorious for having a 1.95 K/9 and also for being the guy who got his knee sliced open while he was covering home on a wild pitch. That gross picture still makes me shudder. So, the thing about Cook having so few strikeouts is that even a relatively normal BABIP of .279 still comes around to hurt him. He has a 4.93 ERA coming into today. Looks juicy, but Wolf's is even higher!
In the end, it's the same challenge as every other day: score more runs than the other team. Today it just may be skewed more towards the literal "score more runs" side of things. Or there could be dueling shutouts in the 8th inning. I can never stress enough that you never know what is going to happen over a given stretch of baseball games. Aren't the 2012 Orioles continual proof of that?
Robert Andino is not in the lineup today after getting hit in the head by a pitch in the 9th inning last night. It's not clear at the moment whether he was available to play and they are just being cautious or if he was specifically forbidden from playing. Ryan Flaherty is at second base instead. Some people have wanted to see Flahrt freed from the bench and today you will get your wish.
The Yankees and Athletics will be playing more or less concurrently with this game. Their start time is 1:05pm. Scoreboard watching will be in full effect. I really never knew September baseball could be this fun.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Pedro Ciriaco - DH|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Dustin Pedroia - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Cody Ross - RF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Ryan Lavarnway - C|
|Jim Thome - DH||Mauro Gomez - 1B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Mike Aviles - SS|
|Chris Davis - RF||Danny Valencia - 3B|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Daniel Nava - LF|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Scott Podsednik - CF|