There was a key lesson learned yesterday, and that lesson is this: if the Orioles want to shock the world and win the American League East, they're going to have to do it themselves. Not even a fellow wild card contender like Oakland is going to help them out after scoring four runs in the top of the 13th inning. They are on their own, and all they can do is win games and hope that somehow the Yankees stumble, somewhere. As Adam Jones likes to tweet: stay hungry.
Today, they need to stay hungry on a Sunday, although they've already had a nice brunch in beating the Red Sox for the first two games of this series. No letting up today. Two out of three isn't bad, but it's not as good as three out of three. They need three out of three, because they need to keep the pressure on.
That means beating Felix Doubront, who appears to be a walking example of why win-loss records can at times be completely useless for pitchers: his record is 11-9, which you think probably doesn't sound bad, and then he has a 5.08 ERA. A BB/9 north of 4 and 22 home runs surrendered in 147 IP can go a ways to explaining the ERA. Doubront does strike out almost a batter per inning pitched, on average. That part is good for him, and a sign that he might have a good matchup against an Orioles team that, much as we love them, still loves to strike out.
Don't move fast or you might scare it away, but with a win today the Orioles would extend their longest winning streak of the year. That would make it seven games. They had several five game winning streaks, and pulled off the first six-game winning streak with yesterday's victory. Notching a season-long winning streak as the late September days get shorter and nights get colder would be excellent. The games remaining get fewer as well, and the margin for error smaller. But if you make no mistakes, it doesn't matter how small is the margin for error.
Starting for the O's today is Chris Tillman, which may bode poorly for my "make no mistakes" mantra above. He's been mostly good this year, except when he's bad he's really bad. After playing a bazillion extra innings in three of the past four games, he needs a long outing to lock down the bullpen. Can Tillman manage this against even a depleted Boston lineup? I don't know, man. A few bad pitches or a few bad bounces could ruin his day and our afternoon in turn. But then, if Tillman is locating pitches, and getting Boston hitters to bite on that beautiful curveball that makes Andrew drool, perhaps it's they who will have their day ruined.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Scott Podsednik - CF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Pedro Ciriaco - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Dustin Pedroia - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Cody Ross - RF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||James Loney - 1B|
|Lew Ford - RF||Jarrod Saltalamacchia - C|
|Chris Davis - DH||Danny Valencia - 3B|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Daniel Nava - LF|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Jose Iglesias - SS|