What's the biggest reason you need to beat Bruce Chen? Because the next night you're going to face Ervin Santana. This is where the Orioles are at now. How can you ever have any confidence that they'll perform well against a solid pitcher after getting shut down by a complete junkballer? You can't, but somehow they've won 57 games anyway. Baseball is strange.
This is the batting line for hitters against Santana at home this year: .237/.275/.404. He has given up 16 home runs total, but 11 of them were with the bases empty. There is always hope against homer-prone pitchers. Strangely, the right-handed Santana has been better against lefty batters (who only have a .598 OPS against him) than righties (.700 OPS). When .700 OPS is the bad side of your platoon splits, you're having a good year. Just for example, the good side of Jason Hammel's platoon split is .759 OPS.
So that's happening. But the Orioles have a Chen of their own to start tonight, with Wei-Yin Chen taking the mound against a Royals lineup that has been weak so far this year. That's an encouraging sign, because Wei-Yin has been good when he was not on the disabled list. You know what else? He's left-handed, and the Royals are 9-17 against lefty starters. That is not a bad start.
Also not a bad start: every Orioles player who's seen Santana more than 25 times has multiple home runs off of him. Adam Jones has three home runs as part of an 11-37. Brian Roberts has two home runs and a double as part of an 11-29. Chris Davis is only 5-25 off Santana, but the hits are two doubles and three home runs. In smaller numbers, J.J. Hardy has two home runs in 13 at-bats.
The Royals are "only" eight games out in the Central, but they are a team the Orioles should be beating. Let's not make any mistakes about that. The Central is a joke. The Orioles should be beating its worst teams nearly every night. They failed to do so last night and they need to do so tonight, because in the East, ground is always at stake.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||KANSAS CITY ROYALS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Lorenzo Cain - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Eric Hosmer - 1B|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Billy Butler - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||Salvador Perez - C|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Miguel Tejada - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||David Lough - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Alcides Escobar - SS|
|Henry Urrutia - DH||Chris Getz - 2B|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Elliot Johnson - RF|