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Game 9: Orioles (5-3) @ Blue Jays, 1:07pm

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Adam Jones took a little exception to being HBP last night. Will the productive anger carry over another day? Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Adam Jones took a little exception to being HBP last night. Will the productive anger carry over another day? Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

The Orioles are in sole possession of first place in the American League East. Let that thought roll around in your head for a little while and savor the experience, because it may not last for long, but they can never take the first eight games away from you.

Today's game will be a test for Brian Matusz, the starter. There is only one question on the test, and it is, "Can you pitch successfully against a team that's not Minnesota?" If the vintage of Matusz that we saw last season is on the prowl, there will be fireworks. There have been eleven home runs hit in the first two games of this series. Bad Matusz gave up a lot of home runs. The combination could prove to be volatile. One thing that really marked the disaster of Matusz last year was that his ERA went up in all but one of his starts - and in that start it didn't go up, it went from 8.77 to 8.63. Matusz is sporting a 9.00 ERA after his first start. Hold on to your butts.

Behind Matusz will be a lineup that hearkens back to the Dave Trembley era. It's a lineup that says, "F*** it, it's Sunday, we're gonna lose." There are those who believe Matusz's appearance on the pitching mound is sufficient enough for this purpose. Paulino and Flaherty are playing instead of Wieters and Hardy, Chavez is playing instead of Reimold, and Nick Johnson's DHing instead of Reynolds. That last one's okay. The scuffling Reynolds may need a day to clear his head. Although if Reynolds is scuffling (.276 OBP), one wonders what that says about his 3B replacement this series, Wilson Betemit, sporting a .208 OBP. 25-30 PA is a small sample size, in any case.

The Spawn of Doug Drabek will be pitching for the Blue Jays. He was a part of the return for Roy Halladay and he's yet to really put things together in the big leagues, accumulating a 5.61 ERA over a limited 101 IP of action. Last year, in the part of the year spent in AAA, he didn't even do well there: a 7.44 ERA in 75 innings. What's his problem? I have no idea, but this looks like a good lineup against which to work things out.

On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Endy Chavez - LF Yunel Escobar - SS
Nick Johnson - DH Kelly Johnson - 2B
Nick Markakis - RF Jose Bautista - RF
Adam Jones - CF Edwin Encarnacion - 1B
Wilson Betemit - 3B Brett Lawrie - 3B
Chris Davis - 1B Ben Francisco - DH
Ronny Paulino - C Colby Rasmus - CF
Ryan Flaherty - 2B Rajai Davis - LF
Robert Andino - SS Jeff Mathis - C