Do you remember the last time the Orioles offense ran into the knuckleball magic of R.A. Dickey? They went ahead and fit themselves into the probably-false narrative of a knuckleball messing up hitters' timing for a week after they see the knuckler. Prepare yourselves, because that knuckler, now wielded on behalf of the Toronto Blue Jays, will be floating in towards home plate at Camden Yards tonight.
Whatever it was that powered him to a Cy Young award last year has not yet availed itself to Dickey through 2013. In four starts, he's sporting a 4.30 ERA, and is not even averaging six innings per start. This has caused other narratives to fly around: can the knuckler magic work in a sterile dome environment? Does it require the heat and humidity of the summer air to do its thing? There will be little of that to be found in Baltimore on this April night.
It won't be quite as cold as last night, but conditions will probably not be conducive for fly balls to go very far, either. That's bad for the strong Orioles home run hitters - even Chris Davis can only do so much to overcome nature - but also a good sign for Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, who tends to play as a fly ball pitcher. Sitting right on a 4.00 ERA, Gonzalez is not quite where he was performing last year. That might have something to do with nine walks in 18 IP. Or not. I have no idea, actually.
Here is a fact: the Blue Jays are collectively batting .227/.293/.385. That is the lowest average in the American League and third-lowest OBP. Having an Izturis on the team tends to drag that OBP into sub-Izturisian territory. Maicer Izturis has a .158/.186/.281 so far this season, which may actually qualify as the previously unclassified sub-sub-Izturisian.
You might expect that the Jays would have either Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion leading the team in home runs, but it's actually J.P. Arencibia, whose seven home runs tie him for the American League lead with Davis and Mark Reynolds. Arencibia has the lowest slugging percentage of any player in MLB with seven or more home runs - a mere .600 SLG. That's pretty good power, actually - a .347 ISO (SLG - BA), but he's no Davis. It is early in the season, though, so one two-homer game from Arencibia and one 0-for from Davis and that would turn around.
With tomorrow's game being started by emergency spot starter Josh Stinson, a win tonight to secure the series win and not have to worry about a rubber game would be ideal.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Munenori Kawasaki - SS|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Adam Lind - DH|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Jose Bautista - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Edwin Encarnacion - 1B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Melky Cabrera - LF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Brett Lawrie - 3B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Colby Rasmus - CF|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Maicer Izturis - 2B|
|Nolan Reimold - DH||Henry Blanco - C|