The Baltimore Orioles will head to Oakland tonight to open up the second half of the season. If we want to argue semantics we could say that technically the O’s are well into the second half having played 94 games. In fact, that’s 13 games into the second half. But you get the idea – we’re now past the all-star break.
Oakland presents a park and an opponent that hasn’t always been kind to the Birds. Of late the Orioles have had some limited success in Oakland, taking three-of-four in a series last season. In fact, if my memory serves me I believe they were in line to sweep the series before Jim Johnson blew a save in the series finale last year. You live and learn. However for a team that’s lived by way of the home run all season, how are they going to survive playing in the worst park in the majors for homers?
The answer is that they’ll have no choice but to make due. One has to hope that a few guys have had their batteries re-charged over the course of the past few days, and perhaps might be in a better position to help manufacture runs. There’s always an element of National League baseball when the high-slugging teams of the AL East play in Oakland, as they have to figure out how to either muscle their long fly balls out of the park or how to get runs across without the home run ball.
The O’s have re-shuffled the pitching rotation, although it does in fact resemble what it technically was when the all-star break hit last week. Chris Tillman will get the start tonight against Oakland’s newly obtained Jeff Smardzija. Tillman last pitched on Saturday, which on normal rest would have meant that he would have pitched yesterday. Throw an off day in there and he’s right on schedule.
For the record, we will still have the normal game recaps on days following games while the team is on the west coast for the next ten days, however they might come out a bit later than normal. Late games equals late columns – sometimes! Fans often have trouble with these late games, however on the flip side Sunday’s game in Oakland and next weekend’s games in Seattle are at 4 PM (1 PM local time). So there will be some strokes of familiarity in some of the start times.