It's Cal Ripken Jr's night in all the pre-game festivities, but it'll be up to Jason Hammel, returning from the DL, to give the Orioles a good chance to win tonight. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
It's a rare thing when you go to a baseball game already knowing history is going to be made. There is always the thought that it could be made in a given game. Seventeen years ago tonight, everyone came to Camden Yards knowing they would be watching Cal Ripken Jr. make history as he broke the consecutive games played record that belonged to Lou Gehrig. 2131 was a special number, and now it's 2632 that's the most special number. He is being honored tonight for that feat and the rest of his career, his statue now in Legends Plaza for as long as these things last.
The Orioles fans who are packing Camden Yards tonight - it's a sellout and I'll believe it, because it's an hour until the first pitch as I'm typing this and there are already more people in the stadium than there have probably been in 2/3 of the home games so far this year - hope they will be watching a bit more history. The Yankees are in town, a four game series that could well determine the fate of the American League East. The Orioles are a game behind. A win tonight and there will be a tie with three more games to play in the series.
So how 'bout dem O's, hon? Jason Hammel's coming back off the disabled list to make the start tonight. If he's healthy and not rusty, then O's fans should have good feelings about the game. Hammel was the best O's pitcher before going on the DL, and he's probably still the best O's pitcher. He didn't look like the same early, dominant self before his most recent trip to the DL, so his ERA is up to 3.54 on the year - good, but not as great as he was. Bring that sinkerball and strikeout stuff and shut down the Bronx Bombers tonight, Jason!
Not that you should put much stock in batter-pitcher matchups, but Alex Rodriguez has some good numbers off Hammel, including four home runs. All the home runs were hit earlier than 2008, and Hammel is a different pitcher and Rodriguez is a different hitter. So what does it mean, really? Maybe nothing.
David Phelps is pitching for the Yankees. We last saw him when the Orioles completely failed to capitalize on the many opportunities presented to them. What else is new? Within the last several days, MASN informed us that the O's have the 12th-best average with RISP in the AL, which is like saying third-worst. Ouch. But they find ways to win, like with Mark Reynolds hitting six home runs in the last six games. That'll do.
If you're not here, I'm sorry you're missing it. You can join the other unfortunate people stuck at home in the comments below. Please do! We don't bite. I will be sharing occasional observations from the press box tonight. It is very full. I wonder how many of these people have watched an Orioles game all year? Well, they're here tonight. It's almost like there's a playoff chase going on or something.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Derek Jeter - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Nick Swisher - 1B|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Alex Rodriguez - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Eric Chavez - 3B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Curtis Granderson - CF|
|Chris Davis - DH||Russell Martin - C|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Raul Ibanez - LF|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Ichiro Suzuki - RF|