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Game 77: Cardinals (42-38) @ Orioles (35-41), 7:05pm

I hate everything about you. Why do I love you?
I hate everything about you. Why do I love you?

No matter how much the Orioles might suck in a given year in interleague play, I stubbornly maintain that the NL is inferior to the AL. For yet another example of this phenomenon, let's take a look at tonight's Cardinals starter, Chris Carpenter. He's thrown about a thousand innings in both leagues in his career. In the AL, he never finished a season with lower than a 4.09 ERA. In the NL, he has yet to finish a season with higher than a 3.46 ERA. I'm so surprised I could pretty much have a heart attack and die from that surprise.

Of course, there's also the open question about whether the St. Louis pitching coach, Dave Duncan, is actually as much of a miracle worker as they say he is. We in Baltimore are naturally skeptical of such claims, because we heard the same stuff about Leo Mazzone before he was hired here, and he came here and the pitchers still mostly sucked. Maybe Mazzone just never found a pitcher he could really click with on the Orioles. Either way, whether it's the NL or the new pitching coach or the new scenery or some combination of all of the above, Carpenter's career has been a hell of a lot better since he came to St. Louis.

All that said, this is a tough year for him relative to his past performance, because he's sitting on a 4.26 ERA after 105.2 IP in 16 starts. At least that means he's averaging 6.2 IP per start. Why the difference for Carpenter? Well, his ground ball percentage is down and his BABIP is up. Whether that's a function of bad luck or a 36 year old arm losing some gas, it's hard to say. Whatever it is, after watching last night's stink bomb against Kyle Lohse, we should probably expect a perfect game.

The Orioles starter is Chris Jakubauskas, so we can pretty much pencil him in for 5 IP and 3-4 ER. That's if we're lucky. Also tonight, Jakubauskas will be facing the batter who hit him in the head with a line drive last year and ended his season - that being Lance Berkman. Good luck, O'Boskie. You'll need it.

Luke Scott is not available for tonight's game after bruising his knee on that homer-robbing catch last night. This presents the perfect opportunity to give a start to Nolan Reimold, even though the pitcher is right-handed. Your starting left fielder tonight is Felix Pie. On the bright side, at least he isn't batting leadoff.

With a hit tonight, Nick Markakis would extend his hitting streak to a career-high eighteen games. I'm still 50 OPS points away from being even remotely impressed.