It's got to feel pretty good to light up the scoreboard for ten runs on a night where two errors (and one misplay scored a double) led to two runs being scored. That was the Orioles last night. No resting on their laurels, because it's a new challenge to face today. Still the same Athletics team in the mausoleum that is the Oakland stadium, but everything is reset for the new day.
Last year's rookie sensation, Tommy Milone (maybe calling him a sensation is a stretch), takes the mound for the Athletics tonight. He had a 1.71 BB/9 rate last season. Kind of wish that Orioles pitchers would throw strikes like that. Of course, it helps when you pitch half your games in Oakland. There's not as much to fear in throwing the ball. In 2012, Milone had a 2.74 ERA at home and a 4.83 ERA away, and he surrendered twice as many home runs on the road as at home. Unfortunately for the Orioles, they'll face Milone within the macabre confines tonight.
Perhaps there is an advantage to be had, in that Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen is also the sort of pitcher who could thrive in a cavernous expanse, at least when the ball isn't hit to his center fielder who occasionally displays a complete lack of range, his right fielder who's mysteriously lost range and arm, and his left fielder whose body is made of papier-mache. I promise I was trying to be cheerful at one time when I began the previous sentence.
It is the case for a second consecutive night that this game is between the two highest-scoring teams in the American League, with the O's having pulled the gap a little closer last night. And speaking of scoring runs, for all that we wrestled with that nefarious Pythagorean beast last season, at this moment, the Orioles sport a 13-9 record and are expected to have a 13-9 record.
Here's an interesting stat for you: we talk a bit about BABIP (batting average on balls in play), and Orioles starters collectively have the lowest BABIP (.252) among all teams in MLB. Due to regress? Maybe that's the effect of having Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy in the field. Whatever it is, we'll probably have to live with it. Unfortunately, the O's starters have among the lowest K/9 rates, the highest BB/9 rates, and one of the highest HR/9 rates as well.
None of which are good signs against this Oakland team that has seen more pitches than any other team this season. Not much of a recipe to break the streak of starters who have yet to make it seven innings.
The red-hot Nate McLouth is on the bench tonight against the lefty Milone. Brace yourselves for this unfortunate combination:
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||OAKLAND ATHLETICS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Coco Crisp - DH|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Chris Young - CF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Josh Reddick - RF|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Jed Lowrie - 2B|
|Matt Wieters - C||Josh Donaldson - 3B|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Derek Norris - C|
|Nolan Reimold - LF||Nate Freiman - 1B|
|Steve Pearce - DH||Casper Wells - LF|
|Alexi Casilla - 2B||Adam Rosales - SS|