Fresh off the euphoria of breaking the streak of pitching futility and avoiding a place in the history books all to themselves, the Orioles come out on Sunday afternoon looking to win their road series against the Rays by winning this afternoon contest.
Part of how they are choosing to try to do this is by sticking Joey Rickard and his .285 OBP at the top of the batting order, a decision that might be charitably characterized as questionable. It may be even worse than that number makes it look, because Rays starter Jake Odorizzi has held righty batters to just a .199 batting average so far this season. This is not a huge surprise since Odorizzi is also right-handed. Yet here we are - the righties are in the outfield.
Given that Chris Tillman is pitching for the Orioles, the question of whether or not the Orioles will have a chance to win the game could be settled very early on. We may end up more focused on questions like, "Will the Orioles start a new streak of games allowing 5+ runs?" or perhaps, "Can Tillman pass the Matusz Test today?" The Matusz Test is passed when you start with a high ERA and you end the game with an even higher ERA. You pass because it means you're like 2011 Brian Matusz, which is another way of saying you fail.
Tillman has an 8.39 ERA as the game begins. Really all he has to do is pitch more innings than he gives up runs. He could be horrible and still not pass the Matusz Test. Four runs in five innings? That sucks! But his ERA would go down. Five runs in six innings? That sucks too! But Tillman's ERA would go down if he pitched to those numbers this afternoon.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Joey Rickard - LF||Mallex Smith - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Corey Dickerson - LF|
|Jonathan Schoop - 2B||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Logan Morrison - 1B|
|Mark Trumbo - DH||Steven Souza - RF|
|Trey Mancini - 1B||Trevor Plouffe - DH|
|Caleb Joseph - C||Daniel Robertson - SS|
|Craig Gentry - RF||Taylor Featherston - 2B|
|Paul Janish - SS||Jesus Sucre - C|
|Chris Tillman - RHP||Jake Odorizzi - RHP|