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Game 36: Orioles (21-14) @ Twins (16-15), 8:10

It's the opening game of a series against the Twins tonight, meaning Jason Hammel and the Orioles actually have a chance to win.


Eleven games on the road followed by three games at home followed by three games on the road. Well, okay, schedule-makers. I guess that's just what the Orioles will have to deal with. They're in Minnesota for a three-game series that starts tonight. You may be tempted, as I was, to scoff at them, because they're the Twins, but they just took three out of four games in Boston, so we ought not to trifle with them lightly.

Jason Hammel enters tonight's game with a chance to win his sixth start, and sixth road start, which according to the various stats gurus would be the earliest a pitcher has ever won his first six road starts since 1920. That is quite a long time ago. But in Minnesota tonight he has a chance to do so. How does Hammel have a 5-1 record with a 4.10 ERA? There is not always justice in the world. The fewest runs the Orioles have scored in a game started by Hammel is three - a 4-3 loss against these very same Twins on April 7.

Against the Twins, he just doesn't know how to win! Or the Orioles didn't score a ton of runs that day. They've scored five or more in all the other games he's started, with most of them coming in support of Hammel. That's what he needs to get those wins, because he hasn't been dominant. Only three of Hammel's seven starts have been quality starts. He's gone six innings or more six out of seven times, but he's given up four earned runs in three different starts.

The good news for Hammel and the Orioles is they'll be going up against Mike Pelfrey tonight. When I look at Pelfrey's numbers, I see the signs of Jake Arrieta Syndrome. There is a wide gap in between his ERA (6.35) and FIP (3.75), which you might be tempted to think is a product of bad luck (.355 BABIP and 57.5% LOB), only I suspect if I had watched every Pelfrey start, I would see that one bad call, bad play, or lucky hit that starts the meltdown. And he's not even averaging five innings per start. He's only gone six innings once! He has a 1.69 WHIP. This is a guy to hit hard.

The Orioles may even be capable of doing this, since it isn't the final game of a series and they aren't going for a sweep - but if they are going for a sweep on Sunday, that would be quite alright with me. They need to get that started with a win tonight. With one of their more consistent starters on the mound against a bad one, the odds are in their favor. Make the most of them. Go O's!

Nate McLouth - LF Jamey Carroll - 2B
Manny Machado - 3B Joe Mauer - DH
Nick Markakis - DH Josh Willingham - LF
Adam Jones - CF Justin Morneau - 1B
Chris Davis - 1B Trevor Plouffe - 3B
Matt Wieters - C Ryan Doumit - C
J.J. Hardy - SS Oswaldo Arcia - RF
Chris Dickerson - RF Aaron Hicks - CF
Alexi Casilla - 2B Eduardo Escobar - SS