After what seems like an eternity on the road, the Baltimore Orioles are finally coming home for a somewhat extended period of time starting tonight. The O’s will see San Diego for two games in the next day-and-a-half (tonight and matinee game at 12:30 tomorrow), three against Tampa this weekend, and then three games against New York in the early part of next week. The Birds played 12 out of their first 15 games against AL East opponents, and now will return to division games starting this weekend. However this week’s “mini-series” against San Diego comes with the twist of having two buffer days off on either side. The O’s were off yesterday, as they’ll be on Thursday before Tampa comes to town. (In fact given that tomorrow’s series finale is in the afternoon it’s almost a day-and-a-half off between games.)
Chris Tillman will head to the bump tonight against the likes of San Diego’s Andrew Cashner. San Diego on the whole is 16-21 and coming off of a sweep at the hands of Tampa this past weekend. That may be a far cry from the Orioles’ record of 23-15 coming into tonight’s game, however they had won six of their previous seven before heading to Tampa. Without sounding overly optimistic or overly brash, the Orioles will want to ensure that they’re able to win these games. With division play coming up following the San Diego series, winning the games you’re supposed to will go a long way towards maintaining your record in games that will undoubtedly end up being “grind ‘em out” type of games.
This series will feature San Diego’s hot-shot third baseman Chase Headley, in whom the Orioles had mild interest last summer. A trade acceptable to both sides was never worked out, and the Orioles ended up bringing Manny Machado up (one of the players in whom San Diego had been interested in return for Headley) to play third instead. Headley’s a great player that probably would have made an impact for the Orioles at some point, however sometimes it’s the moves you don’t make that pay off the best. I’ll re-iterate this again tomorrow, however all of Birdland has my permission to skip work to attend tomorrow’s 12:35 series finale!
Chen Update: The Orioles are expected to send Wei-Yin Chen to the DL at some point today due to the strained oblique. They’re expected to recall a starting pitcher, possibly Jair Jurrjens or Steve Johnson. (Jurrjens has an opt out clause in his contract for June 15th, and Johnson wouldn’t have to spend the necessary ten days in the minors after being sent down on Sunday morning because he’d be replacing Chen who was injured.) The Orioles also optioned reliever Mike Belfiore back to triple-A Norfolk yesterday, so there are now two roster spots with which the Orioles have to play. It would have stood to reason to me that for the time being the Orioles would leave the extra reliever up given that they don’t need a fifth starter, however Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette know what they’re doing. They don’t need to be questioned on this front because it’s obvious that they have some sort of plan.