The last time Jake Arrieta started a game for the Orioles, he was so bad - and had been so consistently bad over his starts this season - that after that game, in which he gave up nine earned runs in four innings of work, he was demoted to the bullpen. That was five days ago. He has not pitched out of the bullpen. Now he is starting again, owing to a fluke situation where Brian Matusz bunted a ball off his face while he was practicing for the upcoming games in NL parks. Now Brian is starting Friday, and Tommy Hunter (twice demoted to Norfolk this season) is starting tomorrow. If you get kicked out of the rotation but you start the next game on normal rest, does that count as getting kicked out of the rotation?
Whatever it is, he now has a 6.32 ERA on the season. It's ugly. One fortunate thing for Jake is that he'll be starting against the Pirates, who still have the worst offense in MLB. I mentioned that last night and it's still worth mentioning tonight. The Pirates offense is so bad it's astounding. If there's ever a team to have a decent outing against it's them. They have walked fewer times than anyone. Their team batting average is .225. Throw strikes!
Sidebar: I am at Camden Yards in the press box tonight, and right now it really smells like bacon. I can't figure out where this is coming from and now I'm hungry.
The Pirates starter is Kevin Correia. The last time he pitched against the Orioles was last season and I made fun of him for being a terrible pitcher. You know where this story is going. The Orioles only scored four runs (three earned) off of him in six innings despite getting nine hits. They lost the game 5-4. Two of those hits were recorded by Zach Britton. Correia has a 4.29 ERA right now, which also isn't so bad for me to be making fun of it.
A different Orioles lineup faces him tonight: Brian Roberts will look for a strong effort in his second game back from the concussion that made him miss over a year of baseball. What the O's hope for is that they didn't use up all the offense last night. The 15 hits they got in last night's game was the most they've gotten in a nine-inning game this year. The team is 27-9 when they score four or more runs and 22-3 when they out-hit their opponents.
This and other statistics come to you from the Orioles PR fact sheet. Perhaps the most key statistic is this: the Orioles are 24-0 when they hold a lead after 7 innings. If Jake keeps them in the game, and if the offense can muster what it probably ought to muster against a 4+ ERA pitcher in the NL, then this should be a good night for the O's.
By the way, I need you - yes, you - to cheer extra tonight every time something good happens, as I am, by my presence in this place, expressly enjoined from doing so. I know you won't let me down.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||PITTSBURGH PIRATES|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Alex Presley - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Neil Walker - 2B|
|Chris Davis - DH||Andrew McCutchen - CF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Garrett Jones - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Casey McGehee - 1B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Pedro Alvarez - 3B|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Jose Tabata - RF|
|Steve Pearce - LF||Clint Barmes - SS|
|Ryan Flaherty - RF||Michael McKenry - C|