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Game 47: Royals (17-27) @ Orioles (29-17), 4:05pm

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No man is an island, though Wei-Yin Chen might feel like he's on a tropical island in tonight's heat. We hope he won't wilt.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
No man is an island, though Wei-Yin Chen might feel like he's on a tropical island in tonight's heat. We hope he won't wilt. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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It is Memorial Day Weekend. Make sure to thank a veteran for their service. We have several on this site. Thank you!

I'm still not sure how to handle the Orioles being in first place this far into the calendar year. It is almost unfathomable to me, except it is unfolding before my very eyes, so I have to fathom it. Whether it will continue is a subject for much debate, but what has happened so far cannot be denied.

To charge farther away from .500 - for once, in the right direction - the Orioles will have to overcome the challenge of Felipe Paulino today. There will not be a Paulino/Paulino matchup, barring some sort of injury, which we certainly do not want to see. When we last saw Paulino, it was ten days ago. He blanked the Orioles for seven innings, getting nine strikeouts, then the O's ultimately tied the game with a two-run 9th and went on to win in 15 innings. We probably don't want to be counting on another late-inning miracle.

What is the solution to Paulino? Who knows? He's only started four games this year, but he has a 1.42 ERA. His career ERA in 373 big league innings is 5.02. Is he a pitcher who, like Jason Hammel, suddenly discovered or perfected some pitch to take him to a dominant level? He's struck out over a batter per inning this year. Even if he has entered a new, successful era of his career, he's surely not 1.42 ERA-level good. So maybe the O's can touch him up a little today. That would be good.

Pitching for the Orioles is Wei-Yin Chen. We will also miss out on the potential Chen/Chen starting pitching matchup. A bigger challenge for Chen today than the Royals lineup might be the heat. It'll be about 89 degrees at first pitch, and with an afternoon game it's not likely to cool off substantially. Down on the field, in the sunlight, it might feel even hotter than that. We made a lot of jokes about our previous NPB import, Koji the "Delicate Flower", but if that's to be a problem with Chen we don't know so yet. One thing that's for certain is Chen is several years younger than Koji was, so I like his chances of being able to power through with superior conditioning.

Down on the farm, it's something of a big night, too. Dylan Bundy is set to debut in Frederick, and there's already talk of whether the Keys' attendance record of 11,006 might fall. In Bowie, rehabs galore as Endy Chavez and Mark Reynolds will play in the field while Zach Britton pitches. Zach will be on the same field as his brother Buck (right fielder tonight), which I think is pretty cool. Brian Roberts is not rehabbing with Bowie today. He came to Camden Yards to work out with the Orioles and he's supposed to play with Bowie again tomorrow and Monday.

All in all it's an exciting day in Birdland. Envy those who get to see it up close and personal! The rest of us will be rooting from afar, and maybe everything will come up aces.


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Xavier Avery - LF Jarrod Dyson - CF
J.J. Hardy - SS Alcides Escobar - SS
Nick Markakis - RF Billy Butler - DH
Adam Jones - CF Mike Moustakas - 3B
Matt Wieters - C Jeff Francoeur - RF
Chris Davis - 1B Alex Gordon - LF
Wilson Betemit - 3B Johnny Giavotella - 2B
Nick Johnson - DH Eric Hosmer - 1B
Robert Andino - 2B Humberto Quintero - C