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Game 78: Indians (39-38) @ Orioles (42-35), 1:35pm

HEY GUYS THIS IS JI Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
HEY GUYS THIS IS JI Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

ALL-STAR ADDENDUM: No Orioles have made the All-Star team as starters. However, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Jim Johnson were all selected as reserves. In addition, Jason Hammel is a candidate for the "final vote" - his competition includes Yu Darvish, Jonathan Broxton, Jake Peavy and Ernesto Frieri. This is the first time multiple O's have been named to the team since (yes, sorry) the 2005 season, when the team had Mora, Tejada, Roberts and B.J. Ryan on the team.

Batting fifth, the designated hitter, Jim Thome. That's a real thing. It's happening. He will step up to the plate today in an Orioles uniform, probably in the second inning because even if someone gets on base in the first inning, someone else will just ground into a double play. Thome has hit 609 home runs. Maybe he'll hit 10-12 more in an O's uniform. That would be okay.

Lots of moving parts today. Tommy Hunter was optioned back to Norfolk after yesterday's game, and maybe he will actually stay there for a while this time. He managed to give up five runs even in a 1.2 inning relief appearance. Between long man Dana Eveland being burned up on yesterday's spot start, and Hunter being burned up in yesterday's relief appearance, the bullpen needs some help for today. To that end, Miguel Gonzalez is being recalled from Norfolk. Making room for him means that Xavier Avery is also being optioned to Norfolk, because if there's one thing the O's need right now, it's fewer legitimate outfielders on the roster.

Essentially the sole reason Gonzalez's presence was required today is that Brian Matusz is starting for the Orioles. If there was any kind of reasonable confidence on the part of the Orioles that Matusz could go six innings, they would not need to stock the bullpen with a fresh long relief man just for today. Or even if there was any kind of confidence that he could go five innings. There is not. Matusz is a mystery. And today he will be plying his mysterious pitching trade in the middle of what has the potential to be a 100 degree day, so his potential for an early exit is increased.

Working in his favor is that the Indians have struggled against left-handed pitching this year. However, as we saw yesterday with their results against Eveland, they don't necessarily struggle against crappy left-handed pitching. Maybe Brian won't be crappy today. That would be good. But if he is, then Cleveland will make us all hate our lives - and without us even having to travel to Cleveland, which is impressive and a bit sad.

Pitching for the Indians is Justin Masterson, a ground ball pitcher. We've seen over the first three games of this series that the Indians defense in the infield is mostly competent, which was kind of a shocking revelation to behold if only because the Orioles infield defense is so bad, you forget that players can be good defenders at those positions, especially first base, where Casey Kotchman has started several unlikely (to our deprived eyes) double plays.

And then there's the Orioles offense, which leads the world in grounding into double plays, and generally cannot score unless home runs are somehow involved. Quietly, the O's hitting as a team has sunk towards the bottom in baseball, with a .307 team OBP that's now 5th-worst in MLB.


Brian Roberts - 2B Shin-Soo Choo - RF
J.J. Hardy - SS Asdrubal Cabrera - DH
Chris Davis - RF Jason Kipnis - 2B
Adam Jones - CF Jose Lopez - 3B
Jim Thome - DH Shelley Duncan - LF
Wilson Betemit - 1B Casey Kotchman - 1B
Ryan Flaherty - LF Jason Donald - SS
Ronny Paulino - C Lou Marson - C
Robert Andino - 3B Aaron Cunningham - CF

"Welcome to Baltimore, Jim. We'll just go ahead and plug you right into our Sunday forfeit lineup..."