What the heck is up with all these weekday afternoon games? And an off day tomorrow while remaining in Boston following a day game today? Scheduling is weird sometimes. The afternoon game can be explained by this being the home opener for the Red Sox. I briefly had one of those bummed "they're gonna lose" EME moments I'm famous for, because who loses their home opener? But then I remembered the Orioles beat the Rays in the first game of this season, and as far as positive karma from the crowd in Fenway, the Red Sox lost that 100th anniversary game with all the living Red Sox returning last year, so who cares.
What happens when you get a left-handed fly ball pitcher who gave up 22 home runs against right-handed batters last season starting a game in Fenway Park? Last year, Wei-Yin Chen surrendered four earned runs in 12 innings pitched in two starts in Boston. Well, that's not too bad, but last year's Red Sox were so comically bad it's probably not all that instructive.
We all hope they will be comically bad again this year, and they may yet be, but through six games they've only allowed 19 runs. Through the same amount of action, the Orioles have given up 30. Allowing five runs a game isn't going to get you very far. Runs are being given up by starters and the bullpen at a greater pace than the Orioles need to be giving them up to keep doing well. Yeah, it's six games, and only one starter has pitched twice, but better to see a good small sample size than a bad one.
If you didn't get sick of run differential last year, you might note that Boston is currently sporting a +17, but 13 of those came from the beatdown of R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays yesterday. Perhaps the knuckler wasn't knuckling and that was that. The narrative is being fired up as we speak: the Red Sox storming back to respectability thanks to young guys like Jackie Bradley and Will Middlebrooks (who has as many home runs as Chris Davis, but only because he hit three against the aforementioned limp Blue Jays pitching performance). I am prepared to vomit.
Speaking of Red Sox that might serve as an ipecac, Clay Buchholz is starting this afternoon's game. Nick Markakis is the Orioles hitter with the most plate appearances against Buchholz, and in those 38 PA he is batting .129/.289/.129. You know what, I'm not going to do any more batter-pitcher matchups today.
The stakes for this game are perhaps more heavily symbolic than actual. It is still just one game in April, and the Orioles had bad stretches last year. But they never fell below .500 last year, not even once, and with a loss today they would do so. We already have the inkling, thanks to three consecutive one-run losses, that it's not 2012 any more, but the fewer reminders of that we get from the Orioles, the better off we are. It doesn't mean anything if they fall to 3-4, yet it also means everything. So stick it to Buchholz, pretty please?
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Jacoby Ellsbury - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Shane Victorino - RF|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Dustin Pedroia - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Mike Napoli - 1B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Will Middlebrooks - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Daniel Nava - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Jonny Gomes - DH|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||David Ross - C|
|Steve Pearce - DH||Jose Iglesias - SS|