Yesterday's task was to beat a wild pitcher who struggled so much he was given up on by his last team. Today, the Orioles will have to face Chris Sale, a pitcher who will probably get votes for the Cy Young, though he probably won't and shouldn't win. But the White Sox are lucky to have him, and his 153 innings pitched with a 2.65 ERA has helped them get to where they are right now - trying to hold off Detroit for the division lead.
It's going to be a battle between the Chrises tonight, in fact. For the O's it will be Chris Tillman. We cannot heap superlatives upon Tillman in the same way, alas. Tillman is still a giant mystery and he will probably remain a giant mystery to me. Maybe he will do good or decent tonight. On paper, it sure looks like Tillman needs to be perfect, because Sale has been very good - he's only allowed more than three runs in four of his 22 starts. Sale has also gone at least six innings in 18 of his starts, and he has gone at least seven innings in seven of his last ten starts.
It is, in sum, a chance for Tillman, Pitcher of Baltimore, to show his quality. If he can avoid giving up multiple home runs, that will be one great sign, though as we discussed, and saw for ourselves, yesterday, the White Sox can hit a lot of home runs. You cannot bring any weak stuff into the house tonight, Tillman, because they will swat that right out of here. No one can bring any weak stuff from here on out in the season. I can't stress this enough. Again, we are not in "must-win" territory by any means, but every win right now is one fewer must-win later on.
Might New York flag? Might Tampa or Oakland stumble? Only by winning games can the Orioles take advantage of the opportunities they may be given, and only by winning games can they continue to keep the pressure on those other teams. New York has none other than Steve Pearce batting cleanup tonight. That is a thing. It is happening. How is that any worse than having designated hitter Lew Ford, you may ask? It's a fair question, but it has a very simple answer. The difference between Pearce batting 4th for the Yankees and Ford DHing is Orioles Magic.
We saw some of that magic last night, and to win tonight, we'll need to see some more. But as the song goes, you never know who's gonna hear the call. Orioles games are something fun to experience instead of something to dread. This is pretty cool, but I hope by season's end it gets a lot cooler still.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||CHICAGO WHITE SOX|
|Nick Markakis - RF||DeWayne Wise - CF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Kevin Youkilis - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Adam Dunn - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Paul Konerko - 1B|
|Lew Ford - DH||Alex Rios - RF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||A.J. Pierzynski - C|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Dayan Viciedo - LF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Alexei Ramirez - SS|
|Robert Andino - 2B||Gordon Beckham - 2B|
That's a potent 2-6 for Chicago.