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Game 88: Tigers (45-43) @ Orioles (46-41), 1:35pm

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Miguel Gonzalez was masterful in his first ever start. That was against the Angels. Can he follow it up with a great start against the Tigers and Justin Verlander?  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Miguel Gonzalez was masterful in his first ever start. That was against the Angels. Can he follow it up with a great start against the Tigers and Justin Verlander? (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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With rare exceptions - a Robert Andino walkoff to keep Boston out of the playoffs in the last game of the season, say - you don't get to sit back and admire a big win. You're back out on the field the next day or the day after. Last night was exciting. I was there. Quite a marathon game, but still just one game out of 162. Today is another game, and if the Orioles won this one and took this series from the Tigers, that would be good.

Easier said than done, of course. While they have faced the back end of the Detroit rotation in the past couple of days, today the O's will be up against Justin Verlander, last year's MVP of the American League. If you believe Verlander, he was trying to throw hard and put on a show and that's why he was not good in the All-Star Game. Even Verlander can have a bad day, I suppose. He probably won't have one today against the Orioles. He is one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Orioles are one of the worst offenses in baseball, especially against hard-throwing strikeout pitchers.

Today marks the second start of the year for Miguel Gonzalez. When last we saw him, he was pitching a masterful game against Los Angeles or Anaheim or whoever. Seriously though, it was a good game against a good team with good hitters. The same challenge will be there in front of him today. Dangerous hitters lurk in the lineup. There's the young (if not Trout young) outfielder, Austin Jackson. There's the big first baseman who signed to a gigantic contract this offseason - Prince Fielder for the Tigers. There's the big home run hitter who probably shouldn't be in the field, but is: Miguel Cabrera. Well, uh, good luck, neo-Gonzo.

Meanwhile, largely the same cast of characters that yesterday had 14 hits, 9 walks and left 13 men on base while mustering 2-14 with runners in scoring position will be facing Verlander. How do you win a game when you're 2-14 with RISP? The answer: you hit home runs with a guy on first base, instead of hitting into a double play (although they did that three times as well - this is the Orioles we're talking about). Something tells me they will have not nearly so many hits and walks today.

Maybe there will be a bit more timely hitting and Gonzo will have a great outing and the Orioles will somehow scratch out another win. The O's haven't won by more than two runs since June 16 when they blanked Atlanta in a 5-0 victory. That spans eight wins and 14 losses. Today's probably not their day to break that peculiar streak. As I am fond of saying around here, stranger things have happened. I witnessed some of them last night.


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES DETROIT TIGERS
Nick Markakis - RF Austin Jackson - CF
J.J. Hardy - SS Quintin Berry - LF
Jim Thome - DH Miguel Cabrera - 3B
Adam Jones - CF Prince Fielder - 1B
Chris Davis - LF Brennan Boesch - DH
Wilson Betemit - 3B Jhonny Peralta - SS
Mark Reynolds - 1B Alex Avila - C
Taylor Teagarden - C Ramon Santiago - 2B
Robert Andino - 2B Don Kelly - RF