Game 41: Rays (20-20) @ Orioles (23-17), 7:05

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It's Hammel Time, which means the Orioles are due to score a lot of runs. May that prove to be the case.

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The sooner we can all forget the two-game series against the Padres, the better off we will all be. Two-game series, against the Padres, with off days before and after the series? Please, like the schedule would ever be that silly. You obviously dreamed that. There, job's done.

Next up: the Rays, kicking off against the underperforming Jeremy Hellickson tonight. I was surprised to look at his 5.25 ERA. What's his deal? Maybe that he's giving up home runs at a higher rate than he ever has, and he was always homer-prone. Nine home runs in 48 innings pitched doesn't sound like a lot, roughly one every seven innings, but it's actually a lot. One in every six fly balls hit off Hellickson has been a home run! And he's stranding fewer baserunners than ever. In every other year of his career, his LOB% was over 80. This year it's 68.8%. That'll kick up the old ERA by two points even with a WHIP being a lot like last year's.

Hellickson has made eight starts and is averaging six innings per start, which isn't too bad, but only two of the eight starts have met the quality start threshold. Eight of those nine homers have been hit by left-handed batters. One of them was hit by Chris Davis. You know what must be done.

One of the two starters still standing from Opening Day for the Orioles is Jason Hammel, starting tonight. He has a 5-1 record despite a 4.93 ERA, because the hitters score like one hojillion runs every time he is on the mound. With Hellickson as his opponent tonight, that may yet occur again. None of us would mind this occurring, least of all Hammel.

The Rays, by the way, swept three games from the Padres immediately before the Padres played the Orioles. Typical.

Both teams enter tonight's game having won six of their last ten. Expect another third base clinic between Manny Machado and Evan Longoria. Expect to be baffled by the success of James Loney. Also expect the unexpected, because this is baseball. That's what makes it awesome, and occasionally terrible. Hopefully more awesome than terrible tonight. Go Orioles.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES TAMPA BAY RAYS
Nate McLouth - DH Desmond Jennings - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Matt Joyce - RF
Nick Markakis - RF Ben Zobrist - 2B
Adam Jones - CF Evan Longoria - 3B
Chris Davis - 1B James Loney - 1B
Matt Wieters - C Luke Scott - DH
J.J. Hardy - SS Kelly Johnson - LF
Chris Dickerson - LF Jose Lobaton - C
Yamaico Navarro - 2B Yunel Escobar - SS

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