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Game 52: Orioles (26-25) @ Astros (22-32)

Game four of an 10-game road trip takes our heroes to Houston. What perils and dangers await?

Ubaldo Jimenez, you're our only hope. Well, aside from Nelson Cruz.
Ubaldo Jimenez, you're our only hope. Well, aside from Nelson Cruz.
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The O's stumble down to the heart of Texas Gulf Coast after losing two of three to the Milwaukee Brewers, owners of the second-best record in MLB. Tonight's opponent, the Houston Astros, do not have the second-best record in MLB. Nor the third-best, nor the fourth-best, nor the 15th-best, nor the 20th-best, not even the 27th-best. They have the 28th-best record in MLB, being defeated in futility only by the Diamondbacks and the Cubs.

Starting tonight at pitcher for Houston will be Brad Peacock. Now, the Astros are on a five-game winning streak, which normally would strike fear in the hearts of O's fans, but ... wait, what's that? Is that organ music playing minor chords, creating an ominous air of impending doom? It is if you're a 'Stros fan. Let me quote from the Houston Astros' own game notes for tonight: "Peacock was scratched from his last scheduled start on Friday at SEA with right forearm soreness ..." Yup, forearm tightness. Just what fans of a young pitcher want to read.

The O's will counter with Ubaldo Jimenez, who looked like he'd righted his ship for, oh, about five minutes there in earlier this month, but turned in a clunker of a start last time out. He gave up five runs on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts in (a season-low) 4.0 innings with five runs surrendered in the fifth inning, when he failed to record an out while facing six batters. Ouch.

So you have a really bad team on a hot streak starting a pitcher whose elbow could fall off at literally any moment facing a team adrift in a sea of mediocrity that alternates playing like they are ready to challenge for a division title with failing at offense and pitching so badly they might well earn a top 10 draft pick next year.

It probably comes down to this: Who's gonna suck less tonight?

Today's Lineups

Nick Markakis - RF Jose Altuve - 2B
Steve Pearce - LF George Springer - RF
Adam Jones - CF Dexter Fowler - CF
Chris Davis - 1B Jason Castro - C
Nelson Cruz - DH Matt Dominguez - 3B
J.J. Hardy - SS Chris Carter - 1B
Manny Machado - 3B Alex Presley - LF
Ryan Flaherty - 2B Robbie Grossman - DH
Nick Hundley - C Jonathan Villar - SS
Ubaldo Jimenez - RHP Brad Peacock - RHP