The St. Louis Cardinals are quietly one of the devil's own teams. He distracts you with bigger fish while working his magic on the regional titan that is the Cardinals market. Sometimes it seems everything they touch turns to gold. They lost Albert Pujols and didn't even care. They get competitive balance draft picks despite being one of the consistently good teams of the last decade. They've temporarily fallen into second place in the NL Central, and the Orioles are in the way of their getting back to what they probably see as their rightful perch.
RHP Justin Masterson, Cardinals
2014 (Cleveland and St. Louis): 20 GS, 104 IP, 5.63 ERA, 97 SO, 59 BB, .277 BAA, 1.65 WHIP
Last start (vs. Brewers): 6 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO
You look at that ERA and you think, well, he really sucks. Which, so far this year, Masterson has sucked. But why has he sucked? The Ubaldo-esque walk rate certainly is a part of why, although you know that won't hurt him against a team like the Orioles, who doesn't walk. How does a guy getting nearly 60% ground balls have a .351 BABIP? Is Cleveland's infield just that bad? If so, he could experience a reversal of fortunes in a Cardinals uniform, which would also not be unexpected due to the aforementioned hidden Satanic magic.
I mean, he averages 89.1mph on his fastball. The Orioles against soft-tossers... it's not pretty.
RHP Chris Tillman, Orioles
2014: 24 GS, 143 IP, 3.78 ERA, 95 SO, 52 BB, .242 BAA, 1.31 WHIP
Last start (vs. Mariners): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO
Tillman's last four starts have come against AL West teams. Now he gets a National League team, armed for the weekend with a DH, whom, in this particular game, is Matt Holliday. The Orioles hardly ever face the Cardinals. Tillman hasn't seen these guys much, if at all. Can he work his weird hidden ball, flat plane magic enough to give the Orioles a chance to take the opening game of this series?
It would be nice if he could, since the Orioles have that big 60th anniversary fireworks and laser show thing set to go after the game ends. Put the crowd in a good mood first, team.
|ST. LOUIS CARDINALS||BALTIMORE ORIOLES|
|Matt Carpenter - 3B||Nick Markakis - RF|
|Kolten Wong - 2B||Manny Machado - 3B|
|Matt Holliday - DH||Adam Jones - CF|
|Matt Adams - 1B||Nelson Cruz - DH|
|Jhonny Peralta - SS||Chris Davis - 1B|
|Oscar Taveras - RF||J.J. Hardy - SS|
|A.J. Pierzynski - C||Ryan Flaherty - 2B|
|Jon Jay - LF||David Lough - LF|
|Peter Bourjos - CF||Nick Hundley - C|
|Justin Masterson - RHP||Chris Tillman - RHP|
That's a lot of Matts, which brings me to remember another summer game where the Orioles were honoring their past and Tillman was the starter. That was a rainy Eddie Murray statue night in 2012, which I spent in the company of some fellow CCers. All through the rain delay, a group of people kept shouting. We thought they were saying, "Matt." We never did figure out.
Anyway, after waiting through a three hour rain delay, Tillman totally blew that night, so don't do that tonight, Chris. At least there's no rain in the forecast.