Maya Angelou knows why the caged bird sings, and perhaps tonight I will learn as well. I am at the moment ensconced in the press box, where I will remain because bloggers are not allowed to talk to players on the field or interact after the game.
I've watched nearly all of every game this year and I'm still not entirely sure how we've reached this point for the Orioles. As I sat in the stands last night, I kept wondering if this is really my life. It seems to be. We have a first-place baseball team in Baltimore. Tonight that place in the standings will be defended by Brian Matusz. He came away from his lone 2011 start against the Rays with four earned runs allowed in 1.1 IP. I can't make up my mind about him. Is it safe to believe in him again? He is less terrible than last year, but not near good.
One good thing for Matusz is that he will be facing a depleted Rays lineup. Evan Longoria has been on the DL. Carlos Pena and Desmond Jennings are not starting tonight. Even Matt Joyce isn't starting, and he may be the most threatening hitter in the lineup based on his 2012 line to date. That leaves Luke Scott to terrorize his former team. The Rays pregame notes I have been provided note that Scott's already equaled the 22 RBI that he collected in his injury-shortened 2011 season. Is that really the most important statistic you can think of to tell me, Rays? Seriously though, this lineup is a hot mess, but then, so is Matusz, so at the risk of being a broken record, it may be a game where we find out which is the victor between the stoppable force and the movable object.
Something working in the Orioles' favor is that the Rays starter tonight is Matt Moore. You might remember the rookie sensation who appeared in the playoffs for the Rays last year. Not looking so good so far this year. He's sporting a 5.71 ERA after six starts. He's got 18 walks in his 34.2 innings against 28 strikeouts and has allowed six home runs. Of course, Moore also gets to face a weak Orioles lineup. The bottom three hitters are Bill Hall, Steve Tolleson and Luis Exposito. None of those guys were even on the 40-man roster at the beginning of the season. Hall and Exposito weren't in the organization. But here they are starting a Saturday night game in first place and this is their lineup.
The bizarre and unlikely has worked for the O's so far. Why stop with that now?
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Ben Zobrist - RF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Sean Rodriguez - SS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||B.J. Upton - CF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Jeff Keppinger - 1B|
|Matt Wieters - DH||Brandon Guyer - LF|
|Wilson Betemit - 1B||Luke Scott - DH|
|Bill Hall - LF||Elliot Johnson - SS|
|Steve Tolleson - 3B||Chris Gimenez - C|
|Luis Exposito - C||Will Rhymes - 2B|