Shameless self-promotion alert: if you missed Stacey's post earlier, I am participating in the Baltimore Sports Media Superstar competition for WNST. My intro post on their blog can be found here and if you'd like to go over there and hit the Share/Tweet/+1 buttons on my post, that would be excellent of you.
Now back to business: the Orioles. Tonight's game features a match-up of two second-place teams looking to keep pace or even gain ground on their division leaders. How crazy is it to be towards the end of June and be saying that about the O's, who are still in the lead for the top spot of the wild card? The Angels are also in line for a wild card spot, though they are tied for the second wild card with the Rays.
While they are similarly situated in the standings, the teams taking the field tonight might as well be night and day. This is illustrated chiefly in the starting pitching matchups: the Angels have C.J. Wilson, one of their big-ticket off-season acquisitions, starting for them. Wilson sports a 2.44 ERA, third-best in the American League, behind only Chris Sale of the White Sox and his own teammate Jered Weaver (who will be pitching tomorrow). Wilson's got a high walk rate at 3.80 BB/9, but hardly ever gives up home runs (marine layer, anyone?) and also gets over 50% ground balls. That'll play.
One thing about Wilson is that he's kind of a dick, as evidenced by during the offseason when he jokingly tweeted Mike Napoli's - his former teammate - phone number. In what world is that a joke? Rich douchebag pitcher world, I guess.
Brian Matusz starts for the Orioles. He has a 5.00 ERA, and if you've watched him this season, you know exactly why he does. He walks too many guys because, much like Head Like A Hole by Nine Inch Nails, he'd rather die than give us control. Also he gives up a lot of home runs, if not the absurd number of last year. 10 HR in 75.2 IP is not great. He averages slightly more than 5.1 IP per start, which is also not very good, but again, no surprise when you see how often he simply can't locate anything.
The main power threats in the Angels lineup are Mark Trumbo and the recently re-awakened Albert Pujols, who's up to a respectable if not herculean 11 home runs. Trumbo has 7 home runs against LHP in 77 plate appearances. Pujols has 4 in 81 plate appearances, so that's a bit better. The beat writers on Twitter noted that this is the first time that Pujols will appear at Camden Yards. He was hurt when St. Louis was here last year. Hopefully he won't give us a bad reason to remember him over the next two games.
And as for the Orioles lineup ... well, you know.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Mike Trout - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Torii Hunter - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Albert Pujols - 1B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Mark Trumbo - DH|
|Mark Reynolds - DH||Howie Kendrick - 2B|
|Wilson Betemit - 1B||Erick Aybar - SS|
|Steve Pearce - RF||Maicer Izturis - 3B|
|Steve Tolleson - LF||Peter Bourjos - CF|
|Robert Andino - 3B||John Hester - C|