The second half of the season is underway, but tonight marks the beginning of a new era for the Orioles at designated hitter. Henry Urrutia is getting eased into the lineup, batting eighth. He gets to transition into facing major league pitching by going up against Ross Wolf as the Orioles try to secure a series win against the team they're chasing in the wild card standings, the Texas Rangers.
Urrutia is but one batter out of nine, and it'll be up to the rest of the lineup to have a say as well. They were not a powerhouse last night, getting on base eight times in 35 trips to the plate. Most nights, that's going to end up resulting in a loss. Last night, it did not. Best not to count on that again.
If there is one encouraging thing about the game, it's that it is being started by Miguel Gonzalez, who has been the Orioles most consistent starter for a full calendar year now. He does not have the pedigree or the big name. He is not even the most famous Miguel Gonzalez right now, with another Cuban free agent drawing the attention of teams. Our SB Nation auto-tagger does not tag him. He is no one, but we like the quietly successful players in Baltimore. He has risen to the occasion, and hopefully he does so again today.
No one on the Texas roster has more than six plate appearances against Gonzalez. Ian Kinsler is 2-6 including a double and a home run. Nelson Cruz is 2-6 with a double. Does that mean anything? Probably not.
As I watch these Rangers games, and the weird jerking around that they do to their top prospect Jurickson Profar, I have to appreciate what the Orioles have done with Manny Machado. Third base may not have been his position in the minors, but they know he is their best third baseman and he plays third base. He does not get put into the outfield. He does not play DH.
It helps that the Orioles did not have any kind of vaguely performing veteran manning third. If I was Texas, I'd find somewhere and let him play there. But nobody asked me.
The Rangers lack the sheer history of hate-ability of a team like the Red Sox, but there is always the Texas factor to consider. You lost the Alamo, you schmucks.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TEXAS RANGERS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Ian Kinsler - 2B|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Jurickson Profar - DH|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Nelson Cruz - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Adrian Beltre - 3B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||A.J. Pierzynski - C|
|Matt Wieters - C||Mitch Moreland - 1B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Elvis Andrus - SS|
|Henry Urrutia - DH||David Murphy - LF|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Leonys Martin - CF|