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Game 102: Athletics (55-45) @ Orioles (52-49), 1:35pm

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Out of all Orioles starters, you have to like Wei-Yin Chen's chances to not suck the most. Maybe the offense will score a run so it matters. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
Out of all Orioles starters, you have to like Wei-Yin Chen's chances to not suck the most. Maybe the offense will score a run so it matters. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

NEWS: Brian Roberts had been scheduled to have another rehab game in Aberdeen today, but he has appeared at Camden Yards instead and has announced to reporters that he will be getting surgery on his injured right hip, ending any illusions of his return this season.

The story sounds familiar, and is terrifying: the Orioles, mired in their current offense-related difficulties, are set to face off against a no-name left-handed pitcher. In this case, Travis Blackley of the Athletics is that pitcher. He is from Australia, which just adds another level to the scenario.

Actually, it's been a long journey for Blackley, who appeared in the big leagues briefly in 2004 and 2007 before being jettisoned by San Francisco earlier this year and then having his power added to whatever science experiment Billy Beane is running in Oakland. The experiment is thus far working. Blackley has a 2.69 ERA and the Athletics, entering today's play, are 3.5 games behind Texas in the AL West, and are in place to host the wild card game. As of this moment, they would in fact host their California cohorts, the Angels.

The O's have 61 games, counting today, to get themselves back in that picture. If they started winning a bunch of games, it could be a fast climb. Another possibility is slowly scratching and clawing their way up. A much more likely scenario is that there is no more climbing to be done, because the Orioles have slipped and fallen off the rock face, gravity has claimed them and they are on the way down to the bottom, where along the way they might get brained by a jagged outcropping or something.

But the good news is that Wei-Yin Chen is pitching today, him being the only pitcher in the rotation who's actually spent the whole year starting and not sucking. Did you know last Saturday was his birthday? I think I might have known that and forgotten about it. Anyway, Chen has been pretty good, but sometimes he gives up home runs, which sucks. Oakland has hit the most home runs since the All-Star Break - at least, this statistic was true as of Friday's game notes, and I assume it's still true since they've added two home runs in each of the games of this series. Keep those fly balls in the park, please, Chen!

Hot prospect Lew Ford has been called up for today's game and he is playing left field and batting 5th. Note that when I call him a hot prospect I am being extremely sarcastic, because while he batted .331/.390/.550 in 62 games at AAA Norfolk, he's turning 36 this month. Ford makes the only one of the collection of old folks that has actually been summoned to the big league club for the O's. You can't doubt that he played his way in to the conversation at AAA.

We now find ourselves hoping that our favorite baseball team will get a key contribution from a player who was born before any Star Wars movie had ever been released into theaters. That sounds bad, but Endy Chavez is a mere two years younger and you know, we've seen enough of him to know we don't want to see him any more anyway. But maybe Lew can hit - if so, I will gladly deal with it.


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Nick Markakis - RF Jemile Weeks - 2B
J.J. Hardy - SS Jonny Gomes - DH
Adam Jones - CF Josh Reddick - RF
Matt Wieters - C Yoenis Cespedes - CF
Lew Ford - LF Chris Carter - 1B
Mark Reynolds - 1B Brandon Inge - 3B
Chris Davis - DH Derek Norris - C
Wilson Betemit - 3B Seth Smith - LF
Omar Quintanilla - 2B Brandon Hicks - SS