To answer the rhetorical question posed in the title, I think we’ll know in short order tonight if the Orioles were able to clear their heads during the past few days. While the Birds were definitely one of the surprise teams in the first half, they undoubtedly limped into the break by losing 13 of their last 19 games. The all-star break is only four days long, yet from the perspective of fans it drags on endlessly (especially after the all-star game itself has been played). A lot of people complained this year about them not resuming league play until Friday as opposed to some teams starting back up on Thursday this year; I thought it was a stroke of genius. Again, the Orioles needed this break.
I mentioned yesterday some of the roster moves that the Orioles were making in preparation for the second half. It turns out that Endy Chavez will be activated tonight, so the Birds option Xavier Avery back to Norfolk. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Avery staying and getting the bulk of the playing time in left field. After all, Chavez was supposed to be a part-time DH and understudy of sorts for Nolan Reimold. However again, I think that Oriole fans need to trust Duquette and Showalter, and believe that they’re doing the right thing by the ballclub.
If right out of the shoot tonight we see unforced errors and mistakes, we’ll know that perhaps the O’s either needed more time off or maybe they’re just that bad. But as is always the case, let’s not read into one game (positive or negative). I feel like the month of June brought an uptick in the number of errors and mental mistakes in the field, and a lot of that was due to so many pieces missing. The O’s will obviously get Chavez and Markakis back, which presumably will send Chris Davis back to a platoon situation at first with Mark Reynolds. The O’s will potentially make one more roster move at some point before tonight’s game, calling up Taylor Teagarden to the team. Ronnie Paulino of course is the most likely player to be optioned as a result.
Jason Hammel was outdueled by Jared Weaver last Saturday, but only gave up three runs in 8 and 1/3rd of an inning. He’ll get the ball tonight as the Orioles open up the second half of the season. Hammel lost his final couple of starts before the break, however he’ll be looking to step back into the blonde sunshine right out of the shoot. Detroit will counter with Doug Fister, who’s struggled a bit this season. Fister brings in a record of 2.6 with a 4.75 ERA. He’s suseptible to putting guys on base, and with this Oriole lineup having changed a bit since Sunday that could be a key element. I suppose with how the Birds played in the final few weeks before the break Fister might be looking at this as an opportunity to get his season back on track as well. This is a huge series for the Birds in terms of remaining afloat in the standings; hopefully for their sake they get it off to a good start with a win tonight.
Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala