Following a loss in the Seattle series, the Orioles head down the Pacific coast tonight to face off against The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California, United States of America, Western Hemisphere, Earth, Sol, Milky Way, Universe. LAAAOCCAUSAWHESMWU is easily one of the most disappointing teams in the American League, limping into this early May series with a 10-17 record. Jim Johnson has as many saves as the Angels have wins. That's no joke.
I haven't paid close attention to the travails of the franchise in reaching that point, other than the 19-inning game they lost the other night, which was simply ridiculous. For as much as the Angels have unloaded Brinks truckfuls of money on the top free agents the past couple of seasons, I am not sure how they're at the point where their starting third baseman tonight is Brendan Harris - yes, that Brendan Harris - and their starting left fielder is something named J.B. Shuck.
This is the part where I'd make fun of Shuck, but two things temper that. One, he hails from Westerville, OH, where I happen to have some family. Two, he is batting .429/.478/.524 through his 21 at-bats this season. Small sample size and all that, but still impressive. He's practically shucking the cover off of the baseball. This is the #9 hitter that Orioles starter Chris Tillman will have to contend with tonight. He has an OPS of over 1.000. Aw, shucks.
Seriously, what the shuck is all that about? OK, I've run to the end of my supply of shuck puns. I'm sure you are shucked to hear it.
The Angels are sending Joe Blanton to the mound. The spiel I would give on him probably sounds a lot like what I said about Aaron Harang last night, and we saw how far that got the Orioles hitters. Blanton absolutely sucks through his five starts this season, with a WHIP over 2 and an ERA over 7. He also has this thing growing on his face in his ESPN profile, which is uglier than any baseball statistics he might accrue. All batters combined are hitting .379/.418/.645 against Blanton. That is approximately Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers, but not as good as Chris Davis.
Most of the Orioles have a handful of at-bats against Blanton, with the most interesting being Nick Markakis having a 6-12 with a home run. J.J. Hardy is 4-12 with a home run, and Davis has homered off Blanton in 3 PA. Steve Pearce has also hit a home run off Blanton, but will not be starting the game tonight. At this point, it doesn't matter who the DH is, because they're both going to be bad. Who could have imagined we would miss Mark Reynolds so much? That's another story for another day.
Tonight's story is please don't let the Angels start to turn things around against the Orioles.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Erick Aybar - SS|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Mike Trout - CF|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Albert Pujols - 1B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Mark Trumbo - DH|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Josh Hamilton - RF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Howie Kendrick - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Hank Conger - C|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Brendan Harris - 3B|
|Nolan Reimold - DH||J.B. Shuck - LF|