First off as you know by now the Orioles selected RHP Kevin Gausman out of LSU in last night’s draft. Especially with what we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, you can never have too much pitching, right? According to Steve Melewski of masnsports.com, Gausman’s fastball tops out at 94-96 MPH, although he can hit 98 at times. One way or the other this is not a selection that will impact the Orioles anytime soon, although it would behoove them to get Gausman signed as soon as possible so they can get him into the system. However I did raise my eyebrows at some twitter chatter I saw last night where people were calling for Gausman to be a September call-up. Luckily I think Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette know better than that!
Back to the here and now; the Orioles open up a three-game set at Fenway Park against Boston tonight. Before we go any further let me mention that the forecast is somewhat threatening all week in Bean Town. May went out like a lamb and June’s coming in like a lion up there! Needless to say, you never know how the weather will affect any of the games in terms of whether or not they’re played. Honestly, I’d prefer that they get them all in. With how the Orioles have been playing lately some people might be surprised by that. Do the Orioles really want to end up surrendering off days and/or playing doubleheaders at Fenway later in the season?
That aside, Jason Hammel gets the ball for the O’s tonight. As we remember, Hammel gave up four homers in his last outing in Toronto (all solo) for the first time in his career. On one hand you look at that and think to yourself, “great, Fenway’s a home run hitter’s paradise.” However I see the Toronto game as the exception to the rule for Hammel. I was really impressed with the curve ball that he started to drop into the strike zone, although he had to abandon that early due to the impression that the Blue Jays were onto the fact that it was coming when it was. One very positive thing about his last start was that Hammel got deep into the game despite the homers. That hadn’t been the case of late, and it helped to preserve the bullpen for the rest of the road trip.
Hammel will be opposed by John Lester of the Red Sox, who hasn’t show the mound prowess this year that he’s had in the past. Of course the stat that everyone is bringing up is the fact that he’s 14-0 against the Orioles lifetime. He’s also 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA lifetime in the month of June. The great equalizer here will be the weather assuming that there’s still rain lingering in the Boston area at 7 PM tonight. Plus, the Orioles hit very well at Fenway in their three-game sweep last month. With all the talk of late about timely hitting, they could be hitting “the Fens” once again at just the right time.
I think that the best news of the day for the Birds is the fact that Adam Jones is expected to be in the lineup after having an MRI on his right wrist in Tampa yesterday. When most people (myself included) heard that they immediately expected the worst and assumed that Jones would be headed to the DL, which given his new contract would have been an incredibly bad ironic twist of fate. However it’s only a bruise, which is something that he can play through. The O’s certainly need him now of all times. Incidentally, help could be on the horizon for the Birds. Zach Britton is expected to be ready to join the team at some point in the near future (potentially during this weekend’s series with Philadelphia at the yard), and Brian Roberts would either have to join the Orioles next Tuesday or go back to the DL. Those moves could provide a shot in the arm right when the Birds need it.
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