It's amazing how much better things look for the Orioles when they get hits with runners in scoring position. After two straight losses where they were totally blanked with RISP, yesterday they went 5-9, and shock, they won the game. Let's just ignore the ghost of the Windmill that continues to inhabit the third-base coach's box.
Today the challenge is nothing more than to beat David Price, or else beat the Rays bullpen, anchored by the ludicrously good 2012 performance of Fernando Rodney, after Price is out of the game. No big deal or anything. By the way, Price has a 2.64 ERA, is averaging nearly 7 innings per game started, has just over a strikeout per inning, and gets ground balls more than 50% of the time. No surprise, he's looked dominant in two starts against the Orioles this year, with a total of 14.1 IP and only one earned run allowed. Maybe that means they're due? Or it could also mean they're due to get destroyed.
One piece of bad news is that Price is left-handed, which means Wilson Betemit is an auto-out - hang on a second, Betemit is on the bench! Hallelujah. Perhaps Buck is serious with this plan to platoon Robert Andino and Betemit at third base. Betemit is batting .145 against LHP this year with only two extra-base hits. Andino is batting .241 with five extra-base hits. No great shakes for Andino, either, but there's a lot of daylight there. When you're the Orioles, you've got to minimize the disadvantages and take every small benefit where you can.
Miguel Gonzalez gets the start for the O's and I still have no idea what to say about him. Maybe he will turn out to be a decent pitcher. Maybe he will continue to get lit up. At least the Rays offense is kind of not very good - so that's one point in his favor. He has to capitalize on the opportunity presented, though. So far he gets a lot of fly balls, and sometimes those fly balls go for home runs. Also there are those times where he can't find the strike zone - also not very good.
Both the O's and the Rays sit 1.5 games behind the second wild card spot - which is currently occupied by LAA. Man, I haven't gotten over how cool this is - it's early August and the O's are kind of in the wild card race, and even if there was only one wild card spot they'd be in the race because they're only two games behind Oakland. This is fun. I still can't shake the feeling that it isn't going to last, but I'm definitely enjoying the heck out of it while it does.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Desmond Jennings - LF|
|Robert Andino - 3B||B.J. Upton - CF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Matt Joyce - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Ben Zobrist - 2B|
|Matt Wieters - DH||Jeff Keppinger - DH|
|Lew Ford - LF||Carlos Pena - 1B|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Ryan Roberts - 3B|
|Omar Quintanilla - 2B||Jose Lobaton - C|
|Taylor Teagarden - C||Elliot Johnson - SS|