We stand again on the cusp of that waypoint on the journey from being a laughingstock to being a contender. A win tonight and the Orioles will be at a .500 record, which as manager Buck Showalter notes is really just a stopping point on the way to better things. Yet in recent years, as we O's fans well know, the team hasn't even managed that. And even a .500 record doesn't mean much when you consider that the last time the O's were .500 this season they went on to lose the next five games.
To get there tonight they will have to triumph over David Price. It wouldn't be the first time they've done so this season. This is a rematch between the Opening Day starters, in fact, and on that day the O's got four runs against Price in seven innings. That's proven to be unusually efficient for the Orioles, who on that day got those runs despite only five hits and one walk. Believe it or not, on last night's MASN telecast they stated that the O's have been in the top 3 for batting average with runners in scoring position all season. It seems the Orioles are not bad once they get a runner to second base, but they have not been very good at getting runners to second base.
Going for the Orioles tonight is Jeremy Guthrie, who's the pitcher you probably most want to see if there's any kind of stakes. Guts has already faced the Rays three times on the season, with two good starts and one disaster. His most recent start was also a disaster, giving up six runs in five innings against Toronto. If he can rebound, there could be quite the pitcher's duel tonight. If there's anyone Guthrie should watch out for in the TB lineup, it's probably Matt Joyce, back in the lineup tonight after missing last night's game with the flu. Joyce is a left-handed hitter with ten home runs on the season, including one off Guthrie.
By contrast, no one in tonight's O's starting lineup has ever homered off Price. On the plus side, J.J. Hardy is in the leadoff spot again. It's unlikely he'll hit a leadoff homer for a third time, but wouldn't it be awesome if he did? Go O's!
|Rays (D. Price - L) @ Orioles (J. Guthrie - R)|