There's nothing quite like the Orioles winning a couple of games to start almost making you feel a little better about everything to do with the team. Of course, New York and Boston have also won the last two games, meaning the O's have not gained any ground in the standings even as they've won a couple of slugfests, but we expect this.
A third straight win today would secure the series win in Toronto, a rare enough feat for any four-game series, but especially rare given how we are used to the Orioles performing in that northern desolation in recent years. Toronto is not actually a desolate place, but the Orioles' hopes there have been desolate. I always expect disaster there. Then again, I always expect disaster everywhere.
Here's one reason to expect disaster today: the O's hitters are going up against a pitcher with 37 career big league innings in fourteen games. He's made only four starts in that time. That's Chad Jenkins. You wouldn't have heard of him. There's probably not a lot to be gleaned from the one start he's made this year, but he threw a fastball averaging 88.3mph 83.3% of the time in that game. That sounds like a guy to grind into dust and sweep under the Rogers Centre rug.
Miguel Gonzalez makes his second start after returning from the disabled list. Holding down the surprisingly powerful replacement-filled Yankees lineup to only two runs in seven innings in his previous start was encouraging. But giving up home runs is a problem for every pitcher in Toronto, and Gonzalez is a bit homer-prone to begin with. There is no sheltering behind platoon splits as a right-handed pitcher against righty batters like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The man who Gary Thorne likes to call "Arncanaysheeon" has 11 of his 13 homers against RHP, and is slugging .517. Bautista has nine of his eleven homers against RHP and is slugging .568 against them.
Neither of them are Chris Davis, but who could be? Davis is batting .366/.471/.795 against righties. Say, do you know what hand Jenkins throws with? Yes, his right hand. Unlike the Toronto sluggers mentioned above, Davis is hitting home runs against everybody. 11 of his 16 home runs are against RHP. That's about 69% of his home runs, with at-bats against righties making up 66% of his total. He leads the world in home runs, and figures to be a good guy to pick to hit another one today. I'd take it.
The Orioles have still scored the second-most runs out of all teams in the major leagues. Their 248 runs trail only Detroit, who has scored 253. Imagine if this team had even an average rotation? Ah, it's fun to dream. Maybe some day.
To all the veterans in Birdland and elsewhere, thank you for your service.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Melky Cabrera - LF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Jose Bautista - RF|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Edwin Encarnacion - 1B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Adam Lind - DH|
|Chris Davis - 1B||J.P. Arencibia - C|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Brett Lawrie - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Anthony Gose - CF|
|Danny Valencia - DH||Emilio Bonifacio - 2B|
|Alexi Casilla - 2B||Munenori Kawasaki - SS|