Game 79: Indians (39-37) @ Orioles (43-35), 7:05

USA TODAY Sports

A pair of 5+ ERA starters duel in what could end up being a slugfest, or dueling no-hitters.

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Put together two starting pitchers who have ERAs over 5 and you probably expect a slugfest. That's what we will see tonight when Jason Hammel matches up against Scott Kazmir as the Orioles and Indians play the third game of their four-game series.

They've struggled in different ways, but the results have been the same. Both have given up a lot of home runs. Kazmir gets a strikeout per inning, but opposing hitters also have a .341 BABIP. Take that with the home run rate and that is a mark of a struggling pitcher, one who's not even eating innings - averaging less than 5.1 IP per start.

Not that things are much better for Hammel, who is not getting the kind of strikeouts he got last year, while not getting the kind of ground balls he got last year. That's going to inflate the old ERA as well.

The matchup of Alexi Casilla against Justin Masterson proved decisive yesterday. Today in batter-pitcher adventures, we have Nick Markakis with 24 PA against Kazmir, including two home runs and a 1.304 OPS. However, the last time Markakis faced Kazmir was 2010, and a lot has happened since then. There's also a 1-3 with a home run for Taylor Teagarden, but he's not playing today. Let's not be ridiculous with these matchup numbers.

Among Indians hitters, Drew Stubbs has the best numbers against Hammel: 4-14 with two doubles and two home runs. There's also Michael Bourn with two doubles in 15 PA, and Nick Swisher adds another a pair of doubles in 14 PA. The rest of the Cleveland lineup has seen very little of Hammel, if any at all.

Hammel has been a walking argument against pitcher wins and losses mattering. He has a 7-4 record to go with that 5.37 ERA. That is what you call being blessed by good run support. The Orioles could use some more of that today to pick up another win and start heading in the right direction again. They're 4-6 over their last ten games, and have lost a game to both Boston and New York in that span.

Boston will probably have won before the Orioles game starts, and New York will win tonight because that's what that collection of retreads will do. Keep winning to keep the pace. That's the name of the game. Actually, the name of the game is baseball, but don't ruin a good turn of phrase by being technical, okay?


BALTIMORE ORIOLES CLEVELAND INDIANS
Nick Markakis - RF Michael Bourn - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Asdrubal Cabrera - SS
Adam Jones - CF Jason Kipnis - 2B
Chris Davis - 1B Nick Swisher - 1B
Matt Wieters - C Michael Brantley - LF
J.J. Hardy - SS Jason Giambi - DH
Nate McLouth - LF Yan Gomes - C
Danny Valencia - DH Lonnie Chisenhall - 3B
Alexi Casilla - 2B Drew Stubbs - RF

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