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Game 96: Angels (53-46) @ Orioles (39-56), 7:05pm

I often like to make jokes at other teams' expenses in these posts, as you've probably noticed. With the Angels coming to town for a three-game series starting tonight, I find this difficult. There aren't a lot of jokes to make about the Angels because they are enough of a joke already. From their ever-shifting team name - currently they are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California, United States of America, Earth, Sol, Milky Way, Universe (henceforth LAAAOCCAUSAESMWU) - to the majority of catcher plate appearances going to Jeff Mathis (sporting a .509 OPS), what else can you really say? I mean, am I supposed to make a joke about the rally monkey? The rally monkey is the joke.

Speaking of jokes, let's not forget how during this offseason the Angels traded Mike Napoli - presumably, he was blocked by Mathis - to Toronto in order to acquire $71 million in salary obligations to Vernon Wells. (Napoli's line in Texas - where he was traded there for a reliever - is .260/.370/.562.) Not content to flush that money down the toilet, they have actually played Wells, and he's rewarded them with a .216/.248/.399. Wells is making $23 million this year, although Toronto sent $5 million in the trade. Suddenly, I feel less like complaining about Nick Markakis. Their next highest-paid player is Torii Hunter ($18 million), whose slash line is .235/.305/.380.

In spite of this comical failure of some aspects of the team, the LAAAOCCAUSAESMWU are a mere three games out of first place in the AL West. They are helped in this endeavor by a pitching staff that's got a 3.36 ERA as a unit, which is also known as 1.49 lower than the O's team ERA. There is a sick one-two punch between Jered Weaver (1.81 ERA in 154 IP) and Dan Haren (3.10 ERA in 145 IP). This helps a lot because their offense, statistically, is a little worse than the O's in the slash line.

The good news is that we will not see either of those pitchers in this series. The bad news is after that suckfest against Boston's Andrew Miller a couple of days ago, I don't trust the O's to be competent against any pitcher. Although I don't suppose I trusted the O's to be competent even before that outing.

Tonight they'll be facing Ervin Santana, whose 3.84 ERA doesn't leap out at you, but it's still better than all Orioles not named Koji Uehara or Jim Johnson. One good thing is that Santana gives up a fairly high number of home runs, and with the super hot, humid day we had in Baltimore today, the ball may be flying.

Alfredo Simon takes a crack at pitching for the Orioles. His last start was the best the Orioles have had in more than a month, so he's earned a temporary reprieve from "Weak Sauce", but don't think that means I'm not watching you, Alfredo. I've got my eyes on you, and I'm doing that thing where I point two fingers at my own eyes and then point them at you. Don't suck.