The west coast road trip has thus far been successful, even considering the one bad loss in San Francisco. It continues tonight - or does it? Can we call Arizona the west coast? I guess it isn't technically coast, until that big earthquake happens and California falls into the ocean or whatever, but it's out west far enough that I don't pay any attention to it or generally acknowledge its existence, and it's not in the plains, so that's good enough to say west coast for me.
The Diamondbacks are farther up in their division than the Giants are, but that doesn't mean they are playing for the playoffs. They're only two games over .500 - the only NL team that is above .500 and not in a playoff position already - and they're 7.5 games back in the NL West, having fallen that far behind the surging Dodgers while they muddled around the .500 vicinity.
Meanwhile, the Orioles are looking to go to 14 games over .500 for the second time this season. They were 57-43, which means they've gone 8-9 since. That is not the kind of stretch that will get them into the playoffs if they duplicate it over the next 17 games. They would be sitting plenty respectable, for sure, if they found themselves with a 73-61 record, but they would not be in the playoffs.
Standing between them and that 14 games over .500 mark is Wade Miley, tonight's Diamondbacks starter - or perhaps more likely Scott Feldman, who's starting for the O's, but we already know all we need to know about him.
Miley is a lefty, and the good news is he isn't exactly in the soft-tossing lefty category, but he's lefty enough that Steve Pearce is playing in left field instead of Nate McLouth. This has the benefit of the Orioles playing their "Chris Davis batting cleanup" lineup, which should probably be happening every night and it doesn't, to the frustration of anyone who watches Nick Markakis (still with two extra-base hits since June 25) hacking his way into weak grounders and soft fly balls in the #3 spot of the lineup.
He is a serious ground ball pitcher this year, with over 50% of the balls in play being grounders. However, when he does miss and give up fly balls, nearly one out of seven of those goes for a home run. His 3.56 ERA is actually helped more by his road performance (3.32) than home (3.93), but he gives up more home runs on the road. As you would expect, right-handed hitters do much better against them - but the O's right-handed hitters tend to do better against righties.
They're on the road, but these are games they need to win still. Arizona is not in contention and the Orioles are. They should be a better team and they need to show it in this series, starting tonight.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Adam Eaton - LF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Aaron Hill - 2B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Martin Prado - 3B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Gerardo Parra - RF|
|Steve Pearce - LF||Wil Nieves - C|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Didi Gregorius - SS|
|Scott Feldman - P||Wade Miley - P|