With an off day yesterday, the teams will have the #42 jerseys for Jackie Robinson Day today, with a special ceremony pre-game honoring the man who broke the color barrier in baseball. There will be a moment of silence for the victims of yesterday's bombings at the Boston Marathon. This is in addition to an already-planned moment of silence for two long-time Orioles season ticket holders who recently passed away. Matt Hersl was killed when struck by a car that crashed onto the sidewalk near City Hall last week, and Tommy Conelius, frequently found in front of the press box, passed away in February.
Mr. Conelius was sometimes heard from his seat on O's TV and radio broadcasts: he would "announce" every pitching change and pinch-hitter. He annoyed me the first time I was there, and every subsequent time it wouldn't have been the same without him. He was a Baltimore character.
Now for the baseball. The Rays bring a punchless offense to Baltimore - one that's scoring just shy of three runs per game on average. We might wonder if this will be the edge Jake Arrieta needs to not have the standard terrible, or at least disappointing, Jake outing. Maybe he can do like every other pitcher does and no-hit them through six innings. This is Jake, he'll walk guys, no way on the perfect game through six. But maybe a no-hitter, assuming he doesn't melt down after he issues one of the three walks he's almost guaranteed to issue.
His opposite number for the Rays - well, technically tonight, everyone is everyone's opposite number, but let's not get bogged down - is Roberto Hernandez, the former Fausto Carmona, I used up all my Fausto puns the last time he pitched against the O's and I won't be going to that well again too soon. Faust things faust, jokes stop being funny if they're over used. Car'mon, everybody knows that. So thank you very much, oh Mr. Roberto, for doing the jobs that nobody wants to.
One possible problem for Hernandez is that his velocity is down from when he had a successful year in Cleveland. Perhaps he needs to pitch fauster? He's sporting a 6.08 ERA despite a near-50% ground ball rate, which could be bad luck or it could be that the non-Evan Longoria portions of his infield have sucked.
Chris Davis hit a homer off Hernandez on April 4. That's probably not relevant tonight, but it'd be pretty awesome if he hit another one.
I have been listening to this song a lot since yesterday. Perhaps you might find it fitting, too. Tell someone close that they matter to you and give them a hug if you can, because none of us ever know what the world has in store.
There is no better time for baseball. Go Orioles.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Desmond Jennings - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Kelly Johnson - DH|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Ben Zobrist - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Matt Joyce - LF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Yunel Escobar - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||James Loney - 1B|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Jose Lobaton - C|
|Nolan Reimold - DH||Sam Fuld - RF|