When last we saw Josh Beckett, he was a bloated, corpulent mass, fueled largely by clubhouse fried chicken and beer, with the only thing more inflated than his midsection being his ERA. He was a waste of money and innings, an albatross around the neck of the Red Sox. Then he got a change of scenery and thus far he has been like a new man, or at least a new pitcher.
What's his secret? What, indeed. If you are inclined to take FIP as gospel, you might note that while he's sporting a 3.26 ERA, he has a 4.45 FIP. On top of that, he's already allowed four home runs in only 19.1 IP. That's not so good. But he's also struck out 17 in that time, while only walking three. He's sporting a BABIP against nearly 30 points below his career numbers while having a ground ball rate that would be a career high. Perhaps he's been lucky so far. His rotation-mate Hyun-Jin Ryu had better-looking numbers before encountering the Orioles offense in the day game. The same could happen to Beckett tonight.
Among O's hitters, Nick Markakis has seen the most of Beckett. He is sporting a .264/.350/.396 across 60 PA. That's enough where it seems like it matters, but it might not, because what actually matters is this year's version of Markakis versus this year's version of Beckett, and specifically, Markakis tonight versus Beckett tonight. There are countless variables that are unknowable to us with every pitch. All we can do is look at the percentages and wonder. The name Beckett always makes me think of Quantum Leap, which has nothing to do with anything.
Wei-Yin Chen and most of the Dodgers hitters will be getting their first look at one another. Adrian Gonzalez is 2-for-9 off Chen and Carl Crawford is 2-for-3. Nothing interesting to be found there. More interesting, possibly, is that the Dodgers are 3-4 against lefty starters, only what does that tell us, because if they win tonight they'll be 4-4, and then who cares about that? Probably nobody.
The Dodgers have still scored the second-fewest runs in MLB even after putting up five in the day game.
Matt Wieters has the game off after catching the day game. Given how Wieters is hitting as a lefty batter this season, this doesn't bother me very much. Adam Jones serves as the DH, either to give him a little break from center field or to give Chris Dickerson a little game action to stay sharp. Maybe both! We can be sure Buck has thought of all of these things, including why Ryan Flaherty is playing instead of Alexi Casilla.
Sweeping the doubleheader with a win in this game would net the Orioles a half-game today on New York and Boston even though both of those teams already won this afternoon. Make it happen, fellas.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||LOS ANGELES DODGERS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Carl Crawford - LF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Nick Punto - 2B|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Matt Kemp - CF|
|Adam Jones - DH||Adrian Gonzalez - 1B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Jerry Hairston - RF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Andre Ethier - DH|
|Chris Dickerson - CF||A.J. Ellis - C|
|Taylor Teagarden - C||Juan Uribe - 3B|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Luis Cruz - SS|