Add another Oriole to the shelf of those watching from the sidelines as the likely first winning Orioles season of their careers plays on. Nick Markakis is on there with Brian Roberts. The key difference is that the team's actually felt like it was firing on all cylinders since Markakis returned from the hamate bone and started leading off. He has hit excellently in that role and the team is 33-21 since he started leading off. Now we return to the days of Chris Davis in right field and Wilson Betemit as the DH, with the new leadoff hitter being Nate McLouth. Will this shifting of material components break the spell that the wizard GM Dan Duquette has cast?
We'll start to get an idea of that today when the version of the lineup that probably resembles what we'll see for the rest of the year steps up to take their hacks (oh, and you know they'll be hacking) against the junkballer prime, Freddy Garcia. He'll hurl in slop not all that dissimilar from what you'd find if you mucked out a stall in a barn. How does he succeed? This year, he doesn't, particularly. He has a 5.09 ERA. As much as you look at the O's lineup and wonder how the heck they are succeeding, you can look at the Yankees rotation and wonder the exact same thing. A $210 million payroll and Freddy Garcia is the best you can do, really?
Of course, a big reason for the Yankees ability to succeed in spite of that is their potent lineup, against which Zach Britton will be facing off today. Keep the ball down, get some strikeouts, and hope for the best. You can be sure that the Yankees will be out there looking to get a little revenge for a game that they lost when the tying run probably would have scored on the game-ending play. An umpire might even feel he owes them some make-up calls - as if the Yankees haven't benefited on the other end a half-dozen times this year alone.
No sense worrying about any of that nonsense. The game is out there, and it's play or get played. Sole possession of first place in the American League East is on the line. It's there for the taking. Dream big.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Derek Jeter - DH|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Nick Swisher - RF|
|Wilson Betemit - DH||Alex Rodriguez - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Russell Martin - C|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Steve Pearce - 1B|
|Chris Davis - RF||Andruw Jones - LF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Jayson Nix - SS|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Ichiro Suzuki - CF|