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Game 3: Twins (0-2) @ Orioles (2-0), 1:35pm

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Can Nick Markakis make it 3-3 on sweet home run swings to open up the season? Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
Can Nick Markakis make it 3-3 on sweet home run swings to open up the season? Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

On the day where Christians around the world are celebrating the miracle of the resurrection, Orioles fans are looking for a little resurrection of our own. In our case, it's the resurrection of winning baseball that we're left hoping to see. Does beating the Twins for two games in a row mean much to that end? Probably not much beyond the fact that now the O's only have to win 80 more to have a winning season, but it's better than having to win 82 more at this same point. Why not keep dreaming?

This weekend also coincides with the Jewish people celebrating Passover. Baltimore has surely seen its share of baseball plagues. Perhaps this is what was needed to escape the losing. As the ancient Jews marked their doors with the blood of a lamb, the gates of Camden Yards shall ever bear the blood of the (figuratively) slaughtered 2011 Red Sox season. When the baseball gods come to assign the losers, perhaps they will see this sign, pass us over, and henceforth Birdland will celebrate The Festival of the Unheralded Pitchers.

Today's unheralded pitcher is Jason Hammel, getting his first action for the O's in a game that counts. In some sense, he has very big shoes to fill, as he replaced Jeremy Guthrie on the roster and we all loved Guts. On the other hand, Guthrie's total ERA in Baltimore was 4.12, so those aren't very big shoes after all. They are slightly worse than average-sized shoes. If he can fire off a third straight solid start against this Twins team - which, admittedly, I saw one Twitter-based jokester label as "Mauer, Morneau and the New Britain Rock Cats" - then it'd show something vaguely resembling a trend, and all the O's media wouldn't have to seize on posting statistics like, "Jake Arrieta and Tommy Hunter became the first Orioles to open the season with consecutive starts of seven or more innings since Pat Hentgen, Sidney Ponson and Jason Johnson in April 2001 against the Red Sox."

I honestly get embarrassed for them, that they have to write things like that, trying to evoke some positive feelings by quoting a statistic referencing a season where the Orioles went 63-98, where the pitching staff had a 4.67 ERA (which, that year, was good for 10th in the AL.) Two starts is a meaningless sample size. So is three starts. The Yankees are coming to town tomorrow, though, and two or three starts against them will be a heck of a lot less meaningless. Still, it's better to have good meaningless starts than bad ones, isn't it?


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES MINNESOTA TWINS
Endy Chavez - LF Denard Span - CF
J.J. Hardy - SS Jamey Carroll - SS
Nick Markakis - RF Joe Mauer - 1B
Adam Jones - CF Justin Morneau - DH
Matt Wieters - C Josh Willingham - LF
Nick Johnson - DH Ryan Doumit - C
Wilson Betemit - 3B Sean Burroughs - 3B
Chris Davis - 1B Luke Hughes - 2B
Robert Andino - 2B Ben Revere - RF

Anthony Swarzak is starting for the Twins. The originally scheduled starter, Liam Hendriks, was hospitalized yesterday with food poisoning. I suspect Betemit at third base will be the only thing that could make us want to see Reynolds there again.