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Game 98: Rays (50-47) @ Orioles (51-46), 7:05pm

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SB Nation refuses to auto-tag his name, but Miguel Gonzalez has thus far pitched his way into our hearts. Maybe he will continue to do so tonight. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
SB Nation refuses to auto-tag his name, but Miguel Gonzalez has thus far pitched his way into our hearts. Maybe he will continue to do so tonight. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Another day, another potential shutout. With David Price pitching for the Rays tonight, it's even more likely than it was yesterday.

Price is good and he's proving why this year. Eating innings, getting strikeouts, low ERA - a 2.64. Man, that's good. Opponents are batting .230/.300/.333 against Price this year. That's a .632 OPS, so he is turning baseball in 2012 into Robert Andino, who is batting .230/.292/.325. That is so good it really boggles the mind. Good things happen when a team actually hits on its high draft picks. Although for all the long years of their losing, the O's have never been the single worst team in MLB in a given year - much as it feels like they must be, to us. So they have never gotten a #1 overall pick in that time.

Much less of a known quantity is Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez. Can he keep working whatever magic has availed him so far? Maybe. The Rays offense is kind of not very good. They are hitting .232/.315/.372 as a team. That's an even lower batting average than the Orioles. Yikes. But we saw last night that even a crappy hitter on a team that's not hitting well - like Brooks Conrad - can still hit a mistake pitch out of the stadium. Not to depress you too much or anything, but it is worth remembering that even the worst player in MLB is better at baseball than you or I will ever be at anything.

So, the offense sucks right now, and we all know this, so let's not dwell on it too much. They are bad and Price is good. The defense is bad although as the beat reporters are noting, the Orioles have not had an error in 46 innings. Remember, please, that errors being treated as the complete total of defensive contributions is a mistake. You only need to watch Wilson Betemit wave at a grounder as it goes past him to realize this.

There have been seven straight quality starts by O's pitchers. They won the first five of those games and lost the last two. If Gonzalez keeps that streak alive, even this team should have a better than 50/50 chance of winning the game... if they can score, at all, ever. Even Price gives up runs sometimes - although he's only given up more than three runs in two of his starts this year. 14 of his 19 games have been quality starts. He could mow down this lineup over and over and barely break a sweat.

Games, of course, aren't played on paper, and maybe our flesh and blood Orioles will pull a rabbit out of the hat for tonight.


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES TAMPA BAY RAYS
Nick Markakis - RF Desmond Jennings - LF
J.J. Hardy - SS B.J. Upton - CF
Adam Jones - CF Ben Zobrist - 2B
Matt Wieters - DH Matt Joyce - RF
Wilson Betemit - 3B Jeff Keppinger - DH
Mark Reynolds - 1B Carlos Pena - 1B
Taylor Teagarden - C Ryan Roberts - 3B
Omar Quintanilla - 2B Jose Lobaton - C
Steve Tolleson - LF Elliot Johnson - SS