When the Nolan Reimold movie is written, last night's walk-off victory will be the sort of thing that will feature prominently. In the movie, he'll see the pitch in slow-motion, and his baby mama's face will be hurtling towards him. This is why he crushes the baseball so far. Then the celebration montage will begin: Wieters Wieners cheering from a suite with Cal Ripken Jr. because he's glad-handed his way there; duck clapping next to the fireplace as he listens on an AM radio from the 1930s; Stacey jumps out of the press box so she can cheer and not break the rule about no cheering in the press box.
Wins like last night's make you feel good even in the middle of a disastrous season. As much as we might hate this team when they're bad, you remember why you love them, too. Some nights you don't get a bullpen meltdown. Some nights you get a monster home run to the visiting bullpen, and it's in extra innings, and it was an Orioles batter to hit the home run. Game over, man. Game over.
None of which brings them any closer to winning tonight in the series finale against the White Sox, of course. Mark Buehrle is starting for Chicago and he's sporting a 3.04 ERA over 148 innings. If he keeps that number for the rest of the season, it'd be a career low for him. Somebody actually got the memo about the Year of the Pitcher 2.0, I guess. Buehrle fascinates me. He has thrown 200+ innings every year since 2001 - his first year as a starter in the big leagues. He has a career ERA of 3.80. Probably every team but Philadelphia would like a Buehrle of their own, but only the White Sox get him.
On the other side of the matchup, the Orioles will be sending out Chris Tillman to start. Tillman's surprised us all by resembling a major league pitcher since his most recent return from AAA banishment. He'll be helped by facing the Sox, who have worse offensive numbers than the Orioles in nearly every category. If he can take advantage of a weak lineup, it will be another good sign. If he doesn't, then we'll be back to wondering what has to be done to make Tillman the pitcher we thought he would be. I have no song or poem parody for him tonight. I hope he'll forgive me.
Vladimir Guerrero is back in the lineup and back in the cleanup spot. No one should be surprised. He has four career HR off of Buehrle. The last of these was in 2008, so the predictive value is minimal. With a win tonight, the O's can still salvage a split of this series. Maybe they have some luck left in the tank after using up so much winning in dramatic fashion last night.
|White Sox (M. Buehrle - L) @ Orioles (C. Tillman - R)|