The Orioles are on a high, riding a three-game winning steak, the last win on an exciting walk-off hit by JJ Hardy. A nice sweep. Three games in the win column. But here’s the deal. Winning against the bottom of the American League West is one thing. Winning against the top of our own division is another. The Orioles need to prove that they can beat the better teams before anyone is going to take them seriously. It’s the next step in the process of becoming a contender. The Orioles have to be able to stay in the game when they play the Yankees, Red Sox, and, yes, the Rays. These are the best teams in our division and, as Buck Showalter points out, we can’t be intimiated by them. The next seven days would be a good place to start. Three against the Rays, two against the Red Sox and two against the Yankees. Let’s see if we can win four out of seven. That would be a good start.
Now for the first series against the Rays…
Jeremy Guthrie (1-5, 4.09) vs Jeremy Hellickson (3-2, 3.72)
A rematch of Saturday’s game at Camden Yards where Guthrie had his worst outing of the year, giving up 10 hits and seven earned runs in five innings. Hellickson is 2-2 at home in his rookie season.
Brad Bergensen (0-4, 5.57) vs Wade Davis (4-2, 3.07)
Bergensen is the one Oriole starter more than any that needs to step up his game – or he will find himself out of the rotation when Brian Matusz comes back. Davis didn’t have a great outing Sunday against the O’s (five walks, and three runs in five innings), but it was enough to get the win.
Jake Arrieta (4-1, 4.17) vs Andy Sonnanstine (0-0, 2.87)
Arrieta is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 16 K’s in his last three starts. He is turning into one of the starters the Orioles can count on for a good start, going deep in innings. Sonnanstine is just back in the starting rotation for his second start, so don’t expect him to go deep into the total pitch count.
Who’s Hot O’s:
SS J.J. Hardy , since coming off the DL, Hardy has seven hits in 13 at-bats, including the game-winner last night. He has also made several great defensive plays.
Who’s Hot Rays:
RF Matt Joyce is hitting .457 (16 hits in 35 at-bats) in his last 10 games.
2B Ben Zobrist killed the Orioles in last weekend’s series, with seven hits and four runs scored.
Who’s Not Hot O’s:
1B Derek Lee, who is 3 for 27 with runners in scoring position – which is the worst in the American League.
Who’s Not Hot Rays:
The Rays are playing so well as a team right now, I couldn’t find anyone who is playing poorly.
Injury Report O’s:
Brian Matusz P – scheduled to pitch a bullpen session today. Depending on how that goes, he could be back on the roster in the next few weeks.
Duchscherer, Justin (P) – still on the DL with a scheduled return sometime this month.
Injury Report Rays:
Howell, J.P. (P) – on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury. Due back possibly May 16 or 17.
Niemann, Jeff (P) – on the 15-day DL with back tightness. Due back at the end of May.