Game 22: Orioles (12-9) @ Athletics (13-9), 10:05

Rob Carr

An 11-game west coast road trip begins tonight in Oakland.

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The Orioles' west coast road trip kicks off in Oakland, where, improbably, the game between the Orioles and Athletics represents a battle between the two highest-scoring American League offenses heading into today's play. You might think that means they've been close, offensively, but the A's have scored 23 runs more than the Orioles, nearly a run per game more.

Both teams enter the series in second place in their respective division. The Athletics are 1.5 games behind Texas, while the O's are two games behind Boston, which figures to be 2.5 by the time the game starts as the Red Sox are up big on the Astros.

For eons, it feels like, the Orioles have been bad on the west coast. That's probably because for eons prior to last year the Orioles have been bad. Oakland, with its absurd amount of foul territory, seems to be a place worth fearing, especially now that the Athletics have enjoyed some surprising success as well.

Jason Hammel will have the task of holding down the high-powered (thus far) Athletics offense tonight. Six guys on the Athletics are doing varied amounts of raking after 22 games, and that's not even counting Yoenis Cespedes, who's batting .200 but slugging .450. That's a higher ISO (SLG - BA) than anyone except for Chris Davis on the Orioles. Coco Crisp is OPSing over 1.000. Why the heck not? Jed Lowrie? Seth Smith? Really? Yes, really.

O's hitters will be up against Jarrod Parker, sporting a 7.50 ERA through his four starts. He wouldn't have great numbers even if you took out his worst start, when he got blasted for eight runs in 3.1 IP against Detroit. But it's early and a great start will lower his ERA a nice chunk. If he's on and the Orioles aren't - say, because he was probably sent back to Oakland ahead of the team, whereas O's hitters could be suffering some jet lag - then there's nothing to stop him from shutting them down. More walks than strikeouts thus far is also a little unfortunate for Parker.

The last couple of games the Orioles played on the west coast last season were the wild extra-inning affairs in Seattle. Just between you and me, I wouldn't mind a game on the shorter end of things tonight so I can do something else. But that 18 inning game... man, what a night.

Again, it's the two highest-scoring offenses up to this point, so don't be surprised by a slugfest, and also don't be surprised by a pitcher's duel, because it's in Oakland and because the baseball gods like laughing.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Nate McLouth - LF Coco Crisp - CF
Manny Machado - 3B John Jaso - C
Nick Markakis - RF Seth Smith - DH
Adam Jones - CF Jed Lowrie - SS
Chris Davis - 1B Brandon Moss - 1B
Matt Wieters - C Chris Young - LF
J.J. Hardy - SS Josh Reddick - RF
Ryan Flaherty - 2B Josh Donaldson - 3B
Nolan Reimold - DH Eric Sogard - 2B

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