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Game 74: Angels (41-33) @ Orioles (41-32), 7:05pm

The offense isn't scoring for anything, so hopefully Jason Hammel has another happy after a shutout kind of night tonight. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
The offense isn't scoring for anything, so hopefully Jason Hammel has another happy after a shutout kind of night tonight. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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Self-promotion alert: I wrote for the WNST competition today about yesterday's presentation by Bloomberg Sports and others about how technology is shaping the future of the Orioles. Please check it out and give me some Facebook shares, Tweets and +1s. Thank you!

It's been eight games since the Orioles have scored more than three runs in a single game. Somehow, they are 3-5 in that stretch of time, which is remarkable when you consider that they are also like 2 for their last 40 with runners in scoring position. How is a team supposed to win any games with that kind of streak? Orioles Magic only powers so much, guys.

There's no reason to think that things will get any better tonight. The only reason that tonight's starter for the Angels, Jered Weaver, is not #2 in the American League in ERA is because his rotation-mate C.J. Wilson passed him after mostly shutting the Orioles hitters down last night. Weaver now has a 2.40 to Wilson's 2.36 and is fully capable of reclaiming that #2 spot. In fact, with either six-plus shutout innings, or a complete game with only one earned run, Weaver can become #1 in the AL in ERA tonight.

Or maybe the O's hitters will finally click again, hang crooked numbers and send him careening farther down the ERA leaderboard. A fan can dream.

One thing helping the Orioles tonight is they do not have a slouch pitching, themselves. Jason Hammel with his 2.61 ERA is 6th in the American League. Hammel is succeeding with ground balls and strikeouts. Rick Peterson probably likes him, based on what Stacey and I heard yesterday. He is succeeding with those ground balls even with a rag-tag group of corner infielders tending to be on defense behind him. I can't put enough superlatives on his performance. What would be even better is if after pitching tonight I needed to hang even more superlatives upon him.

Ground balls didn't work so well for Brian Matusz last night. Then again, neither did fly balls. Actually, not much at all worked for Matusz, and this has been the case for approximately one calendar year now. Which doesn't matter one bit for tonight, anyway - it's the Angels against Hammel, a completely different pitcher.

Guys to single out for Hammel to watch out for remain the same as last night. Mike Trout is having an incredible season. Mark Trumbo is following up a rookie season where he was criticized for a sub-.300 OBP by putting up a .320/.373/.622 batting line. Albert Pujols looks to be on the way back to returning to form. And as Matusz demonstrated last night, there are other hitters, even not typical home run hitters, who can hit homers off your mistakes - although neither Peter Bourjos nor John Hester is in the lineup tonight.

But seriously, though, Orioles hitters need to score some runs and get some hits with runners in scoring position that aren't only coming off of home runs.


Brian Roberts - 2B Mike Trout - CF
J.J. Hardy - SS Torii Hunter - RF
Chris Davis - RF Albert Pujols - 1B
Adam Jones - CF Kendrys Morales - DH
Matt Wieters - C Mark Trumbo - LF
Wilson Betemit - 3B Alberto Callaspo - 3B
Mark Reynolds - 1B Howie Kendrick - 2B
Nick Johnson - DH Erick Aybar - SS
Steve Pearce - LF Bobby Wilson - C