The Orioles begin Saturday with a 2.5 game wild card deficit. The day's results could see them lose ground, jump over a team or two while still not gaining any ground, gain ground without jumping over any teams, or gain ground and jump over a team or two.
All of that other stuff is out of their hands. What they can do is win with their best starter (Chris Tillman) on the mound against some mediocre Blue Jays righty in Esmil Rogers, who has a 1.38 WHIP and a 4.46 ERA. A team that wants to continue on the road to a possible postseason appearance needs to beat the likes of Rogers with 15 games left in the season.
O's pitching has been something of a horror show with the home runs in Toronto, even in games they end up winning. Tillman, of course, has tended to have a problem with home runs. In 92 combined plate appearances by Blue Jays hitters against him, he has surrendered four home runs. He is due, you might say, and not for something good.
The O's have the toughest remaining schedule out of any of their competitors. The only "easy" games are their remaining ones against the Blue Jays, meaning these are the most must-win of any. Perhaps they can give away a loss or three against tougher teams, but they need to rack up the wins against the likes of Toronto. That's all there is to it.
Rogers has a 4.98 ERA at home. As you would expect, lefties hit him better than righties, but the Orioles, as I often mention, have several right-handed hitters, like Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Manny Machado, who've trended better against right-handers. This is the same offense that needed to wait to get into the bullpen because they couldn't do any damage to the immortal Todd Redmond. They are frustrating even when they win.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TORONTO BLUE JAYS|
|Nate McLouth (L) - LF||Jose Reyes (S) - SS|
|Manny Machado (R) - 3B||Brett Lawrie (R) - 3B|
|Chris Davis (L) - 1B||Edwin Encarnacion (R) - DH|
|Adam Jones (R) - CF||Adam Lind (L) - 1B|
|Nick Markakis (L) - RF||Moises Sierra (R) - RF|
|J.J. Hardy (R) - SS||Colby Rasmus (L) - CF|
|Matt Wieters (S) - C||J.P. Arencibia (R) - C|
|Danny Valencia (R) - DH||Ryan Goins (L) - 2B|
|Brian Roberts (S) - 2B||Anthony Gose (L) - LF|