The knuckleball wizardry of R.A. Dickey was something that stymied the Orioles last season, as it stymied most of the league en route to Dickey winning the Cy Young award. Since being traded to Toronto, there hasn't been quite as much magic. He'll be getting his third start against the O's tonight, and in the first two, he has gone for 12.2 IP while giving up ten earned runs.
That's bad news if you're a Blue Jays fan, but there's bad news for Orioles fans too, namely that Jason Hammel is starting tonight. He has not seen this Toronto team yet this year. Well, maybe he watched them on TV or saw SportsCenter highlights or something. He has not pitched against them in the previous two series.
Given how the Orioles tend to surrender home runs in Toronto, and that's been a problem for Hammel this year, feeling good about the game is a tough task. Hammel looks a lot like the guy he was before he left Colorado, and tonight he'll be up against the likes of Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, and Edwin Encarnacion. The Toronto designated hitter Encarnacion is one of the few chasing Chris Davis for the home run title. He's seven behind, but could make that up in a hurry in four games against Orioles pitchers in the stadium formerly known as the Skydome.
Dickey is giving up his share of home runs too, particularly at home and against lefty batters anywhere. He has a 5.61 ERA at home and 10 of the 14 home runs he's surrendered on the year have been to left-handed batters. That could mean a chance for Davis to pad his lead. He's got more plate appearances against Dickey than anyone else on the roster, but he's only 4-15 with two doubles. Could mean he's due or could mean Dickey has had his number and will continue to do so.
Winners of eight straight, Toronto has a chance win a win tonight to pull up to a .500 record. That would leave the AL East as the only division in baseball with every team at .500 or better. On the other hand, the Orioles, with a win and a Boston loss, could end the night tied for the division lead. I think we all know which option we would prefer, and it's the one that will result in a GIF party. Make it happen, O's.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Melky Cabrera - LF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Jose Bautista - RF|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Edwin Encarnacion - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||Adam Lind - 1B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Colby Rasmus - CF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Maicer Izturis - 3B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Josh Thole - C|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Emilio Bonifacio - 2B|
|Danny Valencia - DH||Munenori Kawasaki - SS|