If you're anything like me in this sad season, you're clinging like a barnacle to any slight sign of a hopeful future while blocking out all the trauma of a crappy beginning and middle to the season. Brian Matusz is a prime example of this. I look at his stats and I'm thinking to myself, "How did Brian get a 4.97 ERA? Last game he shut out Texas for eight innings!" But that's because games like giving up six runs in 1.2 IP against Toronto have been obliterated from my memory.
We hope, of course, that tonight will be the kind we remember rather than the kind we forget. A good sign for Matusz is that he pitched well against the White Sox a couple of weeks ago, giving up only one run in 6 IP and he'll be facing mostly the same lineup. Though it won't be without some potential for nail-biting, since slugger Paul Konerko feasts off lefties to the tune of a .649 slugging percentage on the season. Konerko homered in Matusz's last game against the White Sox - although it was in the 9th inning off Alfredo Simon, so that hardly even counts.
A bad sign for Matusz and the Orioles is that they will be going up against Mark Buehrle, one of those pitchers who's kind of under the radar for being consistently above-average every year without ever really falling into the dominant category. Buehrle's thrown 200+ innings every season since 2001, his second season in the bigs and first as a starter, and he may reach that mark this season as well. I could go for a pitcher who's good enough to throw 2200+ innings for this team. The career ERA of 3.81 may not be eye-popping, but you could do a lot worse than throwing out a rotation of five Mark Buehrles.
Buerhle's good but certainly not unbeatable - in his last game against the O's he gave up 10 hits in 7 innings and took the loss. As well, Chicago's bullpen is in an implosion mode, as we saw last night - relievers not named Bobby Jenks are bad lately. If Matusz and our bullpen give us a chance there's no reason not to be able to win this game. Go O's!