Game 34: Royals (17-12) @ Orioles (20-13), 7:05

USA TODAY Sports

Chris Tillman takes the mound for the second game of the series against the Royals. Will it be 7.07 ERA in his first three starts Tillman, or 1.31 ERA in his next three starts Tillman?

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Tonight's Royals starter is Luis Mendoza, who brings a 5.50 career big league ERA (in 283 IP) into the game. If this makes you nervous, then I know you were watching the west coast games where the team was largely stymied by the likes of Aaron Harang and Jason Vargas. Maybe the crappy pitchers lose their power when far away from the Pacific Ocean. That would be ideal.

Mendoza is right-handed, which could mean good things for those Orioles hitters who hit right-handed pitching well. He's also walked ten batters in 18 innings. Maybe Adam Jones will work yet another walk?

Then there's Chris Tillman starting for the Orioles. There have been two Tillmans this year. One had a 7.07 ERA over his first three starts and the other had a 1.31 ERA over his next three starts. Which will he more resemble tonight? Or will he just fly right down the middle with a minimum quality start and a 4.50 ERA on the night? I don't know, man. Tillman is an enigma to me. His curveball, when on point, is an enigma to hitters, so that works out well enough.

None of the Royals lineup has more than a couple of games worth of at-bats against Tillman, with Billy Butler and Alex Gordon each having a home run in a handful of at-bats.

Chris Dickerson is in right field for tonight's game, making Nick Markakis the DH. Last night's game notes listed the Orioles as being undefeated in both of these scenarios. It was a total of three games, so it's largely meaningless, but still funny. The game notes also said that last September when Dickerson was on the Yankees, they were 17-9 when he played, so maybe he's a serious good luck charm of some sort. Or not.

After a bit of a rainy mess last night, the weather looks kinder tonight. While there was a sudden burst of hail at the stadium grounds earlier this afternoon - during which hail Jeremy Guthrie was still getting in his sprints, because he's awesome like that - the radar seems like it should be clear for game time without any interruptions. This is probably a better sign for the Orioles than the Royals; Tillman being chased by rain would be worse than Mendoza, if everything goes as you'd expect.

Then again, what you expect depends on whether you fear the pitcher with the crappy numbers. There's no reason at all to fear him, which makes him even more fearsome than a Cy Young award winner. Of which the Orioles have already defeated a couple this season.

Last night's game notes noted the Orioles have an 8-3 record in first games of series and a 12-10 record in all other games. Why is that? Fluke, probably. Winning tonight would secure the series win, and considering they have a 4-6 record in final games of series, winning tonight would be better than not. A win tonight would also make for a four-game winning streak, which would be the longest of the year. Sounds good to me. Make it happen, fellas.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Nate McLouth - LF Alex Gordon - LF
Manny Machado - 3B Alcides Escobar - SS
Nick Markakis - DH Billy Butler - DH
Adam Jones - CF Eric Hosmer - 1B
Chris Davis - 1B Lorenzo Cain - RF
Matt Wieters - C Mike Moustakas - 3B
J.J. Hardy - SS Elliot Johnson - 2B
Ryan Flaherty - 2B George Kottaras - C
Chris Dickerson - RF Jarrod Dyson - CF

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