Of the many impressive pitchers who are performing at high levels across MLB this season, Josh Beckett is the one that I find the most striking. This is his final start before the All-Star Break and he's coming into it with a 2.12 ERA. That's quite a feat for a pitcher who gets to face the AL East most of the time. Although one can probably also argue that he's been extremely lucky, with a BABIP of .216 and a HR/FB ratio of 4.9%. He is also helped by the fact that he's on the Red Sox, who are putting up the best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in all of MLB, so he doesn't have to face his own hitters.
So you know, just in case you were coming into this game with any kind of optimism - and if you were, then you're more deranged than I am, because seriously, how can you have any hope left after losing nine of the last ten and many in brutal, never-had-a-chance fashion?
Speaking of Beckett and his 2.12 ERA, think about this for a second. The O's imagined rotation to start the season was Guthrie, Matusz, Arrieta, Bergesen, and Tillman in some order. Two of those guys are currently in AAA, another spent time in AAA, and all of them except for Guthrie have an ERA that is more than double Beckett's. Guthrie is precisely 0.01 ERA points below double of Beckett's. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, it's the Year of the Pitcher everywhere except here. The O's now have the worst staff ERA in baseball with an astoundingly bad 4.67.
There's your wrap-up of things about tonight's game that may make you cry. Then there are the things that will fill you with rage, chiefly the lineup. Those Orioles fans who are some combination of steadfast and just plain crazy enough to still be following the O's are being asked to bear the following indignities tonight:
* Vlad continues to bat cleanup
* Felix is starting in LF
* D. Lee is hitting in front of Mark Reynolds
OK, sure, let's say that Nolan Reimold was starting instead (and it's really sad that even with Luke on the DL he can't get more than two starts in four games), and maybe Reynolds was hitting cleanup and the old man tandem was 7th and 8th. Are the O's that much more likely to beat Beckett? No. At least then we'd know they're trying. Running out a lineup like this makes it feel like they aren't even trying.
Zach Britton, come on down. You're the next contestant. Please bring us a little bit of Birdland, even though the offense will likely let you down. Thanks.
|Orioles (Z. Britton - L) @ Red Sox (J. Beckett - R)|