The Orioles have left the digs of one of their close competitors chasing a wild card spot and head right into the house of another: the Cleveland Indians. Both teams harbor dreams of pulling down the Rays or Athletics, and they are standing in each other's way as they try to do so.
As with the recently-concluded New York series, whoever wins this series will come out of it with renewed vigor in their playoff hopes and whoever loses it can probably turn out the lights on the season. It is crucial for both teams in gaining ground. Getting to last season's 93 wins would now take a 21-6 record for the remainder of the season for the O's. They need to win every series at a minimum, and preferably sweep a couple. Do they have that in them?
Their opponent on Monday is Justin Masterson, who is having himself a very nice season. 188.1 innings and a 3.49 ERA? 58% ground balls? I wish the Orioles had someone like that. He also strikes out nearly a batter per inning. Heck of a combination. A 3.54 BB/9 is not so great, but it won't hurt him much against the O's since they don't do much walking.
Also, basically everyone on the O's has sucked in their action against Masterson. The exceptions are Alexi Casilla - who has two home runs! - and Chris Davis. Adam Jones has done decently against him, but everyone else, it's not pretty. Nick Markakis is particularly not pretty against Masterson: 28 plate appearances with a .160/.250/.160 batting line. Yikes.
Bud Norris pitches for the O's. He'll be facing a Cleveland team that has seen very little of him. Only Drew Stubbs has any notable sample, with a .686 OPS in 17 plate appearances. Norris struggles against lefties, and eight of the nine Indians hitters are either lefties or switch-hitters. I suddenly don't want to talk about this game any more. I hope it doesn't suck.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||CLEVELAND INDIANS|
|Brian Roberts (S) - DH||Michael Bourn (L) - CF|
|Manny Machado (R) - 3B||Nick Swisher (S) - 1B|
|Chris Davis (L) - 1B||Jason Kipnis (L) - 2B|
|Adam Jones (R) - CF||Carlos Santana (S) - C|
|Matt Wieters (S) - C||Michael Brantley (L) - LF|
|Nick Markakis (L) - RF||Asdrubal Cabrera (S) - SS|
|J.J. Hardy (R) - SS||Jason Giambi (L) - DH|
|Nate McLouth (L) - LF||Lonnie Chisenhall (L) - 3B|
|Alexi Casilla (S) - 2B||Drew Stubbs (R) - RF|