Going into today's games, the Orioles are one of three undefeated teams in the major leagues. To continue their winning ways, tonight they will be required to overcome perhaps the strongest challenge yet of the young season as they come up against Tigers starter Justin Verlander.
Verlander, the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year, has thrown at least 200 innings in each of the last four seasons, and only once in his five-year career has he had a full-season ERA higher than 3.66, including a mammoth 2009 where he threw 240 innings and struck out 269 batters, which was still only good for third place in Cy Young voting behind the inhuman effort that year from Zach Greinke. Last year, Verlander had a mere 219 strikeouts in 224.1 IP. The last time an Orioles starter had 200 or more strikeouts was 2007 Erik Bedard, who had 221 in 182 IP.
Six Orioles batters have at least ten plate appearances against Verlander, and only two of these - Vladimir Guerrero and Luke Scott - have over a .300 OBP. With Vlad, who knows what we will get, and preliminary indications are that Luke Scott will not be in tonight's starting lineup. There is also Matt Wieters, with only 6 PA that includes a double and a triple, which both came in Wieters' second MLB game. The triple was his first MLB hit.
Taking on the Tigers lineup that was kept quiet by Jake Arrieta in the home opener will be emergency replacement starter Brad Bergesen, who will be pitching due to Jeremy Guthrie's pneumonia that kept him in the hospital the last two nights. Bergesen hadn't been scheduled to pitch in the rotation until April 10. If we see the Bergesen from August and September of last year, there's a good chance of a fast, low-scoring game. If we see the pre-Buck Bergesen, then our time as an undefeated team will probably draw to a close.