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Game 49: Orioles (29-19) @ Blue Jays (24-24), 7:07pm

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Let's hope Tommy Hunter can minimize the number of pictures taken like this one during tonight's game. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
Let's hope Tommy Hunter can minimize the number of pictures taken like this one during tonight's game. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
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Tonight's game between the Orioles and the Blue Jays probably only takes on increased importance if you are, like me, perpetually perched on the edge of complete panic. The signs were there in the last two losses against Kansas City and all it would take is a third straight loss to prove that we're heading back into familiar territory. This is probably wrong. We should stop being melodramatic, you and I. The O's haven't even yet tied their season-worst losing streak (still only three games, thanks to the sweep by the Yankees in the second series of the season). But we have gotten a taste of winning, and we remember what it's like to not taste winning, so when we are deprived of it again it feels as if it must be gone forever.

The last time Tommy Hunter pitched in Toronto, he gave up four home runs, which may be contributing to your malaise. Feeling good with a guy with a 5+ ERA on the mound is a difficult proposition, something we know for ourselves due to the frequency with which we've seen it in the past. This is the experience. Repeating through the lineup three times with success is apparently beyond him. So all we can hope is that he minimizes the damage in the first two times through and that Buck Showalter is perched to yank him at the right moment when things abruptly turn south as they inevitably do.

Good news for O's fans is that the Blue Jays starter, Drew Hutchison, is also in that 5+ ERA category. He is sporting a 5.73 ERA. He is also 21 years old and this is his first season in the major leagues. We saw Hutchison earlier in the season, making his second ever MLB start. On that day he pitched 5 innings and gave up two earned runs. It seems he has run into some difficulties since then. Perhaps he will encounter more tonight.

This game is the (triumphant?) return to the lineup for Mark Reynolds, back with the big club after a stint on the disabled list for a left oblique injury. Reports are that he would have rejoined the O's tomorrow regardless, so the Stu Pomeranz injury only advanced things by one day. Reynolds is the DH tonight, and for as much as we've heard O's broadcasters talk about how the O's like not being stuck with one DH, they probably are now that Reynolds is back. Any one of Reynolds, Chris Davis and Wilson Betemit could probably be permanent DH types. Only one of them can be on a given night. It's Reynolds tonight. The others will see their share of action because Tommy Hunter is a contact pitcher.

Enjoy your activities of choice tonight. As our favorite announcer might say, DRINK! ... ... .. responsibly. And another thank you to all the servicemen and women out there, past and present, in whose honor we celebrate this three-day weekend.


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Xavier Avery - LF Kelly Johnson - 2B
J.J. Hardy - SS Colby Rasmus - CF
Nick Markakis - RF Jose Bautista - RF
Adam Jones - CF Edwin Encarnacion - DH
Matt Wieters - C Eric Thames - LF
Wilson Betemit - 3B Brett Lawrie - 3B
Chris Davis - 1B David Cooper - 1B
Mark Reynolds - DH Jeff Mathis - C
Robert Andino - 2B Omar Vizquel - SS

Disturbing though it is to contemplate, I vastly prefer our 7-8-9 hitters to that of Toronto. Naturally, this means every one of their 7-8-9 hitters will homer tonight. Speaking of homers and Toronto, their team leader for HR is 15, but it's not Bautista: it's Edwin Encarnacion. What the heck?