Miguel Gonzalez returns to Anaheim, where last year he made a magical first start in the major leagues. Not only did his first start go well, but he acquitted himself well throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs. This year's campaign is not going as swimmingly up until now, but there's a lot of games left to be played, and he isn't doing supremely awful. Just not great. He's probably hurt the most by walks. Who isn't?
The Angels have among the lowest walk rates among MLB clubs, 26th out of 30, which could be in Gonzalez's favor. There's also his tendency to be a fly ball pitcher and the whole marine layer phenomenon that occurs in night games in Anaheim, not that it makes sense to any of us.
On top of that, Gonzalez gets to face the Angels hitters, who are adrift in the doldrums lately. It only takes one game to start turning that around. We hope it's not Gonzalez's game tonight where that occurs. The big money men are struggling so far. No one else is stepping up enough to save them from a paltry 10-18 record. Mariano Rivera of the Yankees has more saves than the Angels have wins. Bummer, dudes.
If they want to right the ship tonight, it'll have to be behind Jason Vargas. This is normally the part where I would say denigrating things about the pitching ability (relative to his major league competitors) of Vargas, only I've watched the O's hitters not do a heck of a lot on two consecutive nights against Aaron Harang and Joe Blanton. Vargas has yet to win a start and has a 4.85 ERA. He's the kind of soft-tossing guy I fear, not because he's good but he fits the archetype of a player the Orioles, even in good years, inexplicably suck against.
Division rivals Yankees and Red Sox are finally running into tough teams this weekend, with New York playing Oakland and Boston playing Texas, giving the Orioles more of a chance to pull closer for now. Perhaps Orioles magic can counter the dark magic.
One other trend playing out through this series is that the Orioles, with a 10-7 road record, have the most road wins in MLB. They have played more road games than any team in MLB to this point. A strong finish to this west coast trip will leave them in a good position. But there are three games left, still, including one to be started by Freddy Garcia tomorrow. All could yet go wrong. So win tonight, O's!
Nate McLouth, just about hotter than anything, is not in the lineup tonight. Though we may want to consider that the reason he's just about hotter than anything is that he's not playing against lefties.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM|
|Nolan Reimold - LF||Erick Aybar - SS|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Mike Trout - CF|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Albert Pujols - 1B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Mark Trumbo - RF|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Josh Hamilton - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Howie Kendrick - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Alberto Callaspo - 3B|
|Steve Pearce - DH||Chris Iannetta - C|
|Alexi Casilla - 2B||J.B. Shuck - LF|