Game 117: Orioles (64-52) @ Giants (52-64), 4:05

Denis Poroy

The Orioles look to grab the series win in the rubber match of their three games against the Giants on Sunday afternoon. Bud Norris starts for the O's, with Matt Cain starting for San Francisco.

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Screw around with poor performances against Ryan Vogelsong and Chad Gaudin and then you end up having to beat Matt Cain to win a series. This is where the Orioles are today. Cain is not exactly having a great year for the Giants - after his highest single-season ERA from 2009 to 2012 was 3.14, this year he's sporting a 4.47. He's giving up home runs at the highest rate of his career. That's still only a 1.10 HR/9; Chris Tillman is envious.

Will they be able to muster even a single hit with a runner in scoring position today? That would be progress. The silver lining is at least they had runners in scoring position, I guess. Not as bad as having none of those at all. There have been games where they nearly pulled off such a caper, never advancing a runner past first base unless someone hit a home run.

Pitchers who don't walk a lot of batters are sometimes strangely good matchups for the O's, because if they throw strikes a lot, the Orioles can hit those strikes. They love to swing, so if a pitcher is working in the strike zone, that is a good sign. We have seen this for several years, highlighted the most in my mind by their good games against Cliff Lee. They fail against the soft-tossing lefties, but they smoke the strike-throwing righties.

Bud Norris makes his third start since being traded to the Orioles. Your guess is as good as mine how he will end up doing. Home runs have been his problem, but the Giants have the second-fewest home runs out of any team in MLB. They have 69 and only the Marlins have fewer, with 64. That is also a solid enough omen, but it only takes one mistake to make a good outing not as good, especially if the offense isn't scoring runs. And they won't be, because have you seen these guys lately?

The missed chances pile up for the Orioles. They could have gained a game on the Rays yesterday, kept themselves from falling farther behind Boston, but they went 0-for with RISP and could not manage it. Losing today would mean losing a series against a losing team, again, and would be yet another missed chance. Can we stop that, maybe? The playoffs were fun.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Nate McLouth - LF Marco Scutaro - 2B
Manny Machado - 3B Brandon Crawford - SS
Nick Markakis - RF Brandon Belt - 1B
Adam Jones - CF Buster Posey - C
Chris Davis - 1B Hunter Pence - RF
Matt Wieters - C Pablo Sandoval - 3B
J.J. Hardy - SS Roger Kieschnick - LF
Brian Roberts - 2B Gregor Blanco - CF
Bud Norris - P Matt Cain - P

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