A win today means the Orioles would be on pace to win 108 games. A loss today means the pace is instead to lose 108 games. Well, no pressure or anything, guys.
The whole point of the regular season is that one game doesn't mean a whole lot. That's what we have to keep telling ourselves. It's true, too, because any one player can have a bad game one night and be great for a month or two months. I watched a miserable 9th inning Jim Johnson pitched against Oakland, and that didn't stop him from leading the majors in saves. Then again, the 51 saves didn't stop him from having two bad games in the ALDS.
For fans, that last night's game unfolded the way it did is unfortunate, because the bullpen regression that many national commentators saw as inevitable was supposed to be one fatal flaw, so with only two games played, there's a lot of outsized attention paid to that meltdown. On the other hand, last year saw the Orioles lose their first two extra inning games - the pain stands out in my mind because they were both part of a three-game sweep by the Yankees - and they went ahead and won the next 16 extra inning contests. Something similar this year would be great.
Players just have to pick themselves up, dust off and go at it again today. We saw last year that they are very good at doing that. Though they had that great record in one-run games last year, there were still tough losses. They kept battling.
Today, they battle the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona. I think of him in my head as ex post Fausto. In any case, he is now known as Roberto Hernandez, because the Faustian bargain he struck to become a big league pitcher ran out. I have now exh(f)austed my supply of Fausto puns. I'll be the faust to admit that to you. Where in the world is Carmona? St. Petersburg, which is why he's starting today's game. Why did Carmona's name get the works? That's nobody's business but the clerks. OK, now I'm really done, probably.
As for Hernandez as a pitcher, he seems to be one of those guys with just enough promise to always convince people to give him a chance, but never actually puts it all together. The guy has a career 4.64 ERA and had a 5.25 ERA in the last full season he pitched, and yet the Rays feel like he's worth $3.25 million this season. We are now six years removed from when he got Cy Young consideration, and in only one of the ensuing five seasons did he have even decent results. None of which means he won't throw a no-hitter today.
Miguel Gonzalez will be on the mound for the Orioles, and our eyes will be anxiously upon him as well, because he is another player "they" think is due to regress. Any proof they might be right will terrify us, cause us to act like the sky is falling, and all that kind of stuff we don't want to do. He is a fly ball pitcher, there will be no wind in a dome, and the Rays, yesterday's game notwithstanding, don't figure to hit a ton of home runs. So good luck with that, Miguel. If you could give us seven innings, that would be great.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Desmond Jennings - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Matt Joyce - LF|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Ben Zobrist - RF|
|Adam Jones - CF||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Shelley Duncan - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Yunel Escobar - SS|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||James Loney - 1B|
|Ryan Flaherty - DH||Jose Molina - C|
|Brian Roberts - 2B||Ryan Roberts - 2B|