You probably expected that there would be the potential for a sweep going into the final game of this series. I certainly did. What I did not expect as that it would be the Orioles who would have the chance for that sweep. Whether they can capitalize on it is another story entirely. Sure, two out of three ain't bad, but it's felt like there have been a number of games this year where once the team had secured the series win, they weren't really staying hungry. Just because it feels that way doesn't mean that's what happened - but it still feels that way.
If the O's were to win today, they would find themselves 4.5 games back in the AL East. That's still a fairly substantial margin, but the mystique of Yankees inevitability would be punctured. The Yankee juggernaut would be temporarily halted and it would know it was halted. We could enjoy a couple of days of Yankees fan panic and overreaction and that would be fun.
Getting the sweep is another story. The questionable Zach Britton starts for the Orioles today. The questions are whether he can keep the ball down and whether he can throw strikes - in short, whether he will ever be able to be a capable major league pitcher. If he works off the promise of his sinker and gets a lot of ground balls and some strikeouts, that will be good. He has walked about a million dudes this year. Actually, it's 11 walks in 15.2 IP. That sucks. It's not going to get any easier against the Yankees today, and if he stumbles early, he can't count on the offense and the opposing pitcher to bail him out as happened for Chris Tillman yesterday.
Phil Hughes is the Yankees starter. I guess the good news about Hughes is that when we talked to Tanya from Pinstripe Alley to preview this series, when the name of Hughes came up, she gave an exasperated sigh. I think in that Yankee way he was supposed to be the next Cy Young or something. Instead, this year he's 10-8 with a 4.08 ERA. Shoot, I'd like a guy with a 4.08 ERA. OK, but the problem for Hughes is he gives up home runs at nearly a Tommy Hunter pace - 1.85 HR/9, which, since he has made 20 starts, means that he has allowed the most home runs (tied with Jason Vargas) of all pitchers in baseball. (Hunter is only one off the lead.)
So get on base and then hit some freaking home runs, O's hitters. It's that simple, really.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Derek Jeter - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Curtis Granderson - CF|
|Chris Davis - DH||Nick Swisher - DH|
|Adam Jones - CF||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Andruw Jones - RF|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Russell Martin - C|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Casey McGehee - 1B|
|Endy Chavez - LF||Ichiro Suzuki - LF|
|Omar Quintanilla - 2B||Jayson Nix - 3B|
And these are the lineups of the first and second place teams in the American League East on August 1.