The Orioles opening series in Tampa was not ideal, but the club heads home hoping to build on the 2010 season first winning streak. The Toronto Blue Jays are in town for the Orioles home opener in what is supposed to be the first series in the battle for 4th place in the division. The Jays have a leg up on the Orioles right now having won 2 of 3 in Texas to start the season. In their opening series the Jays were led by Vernon Wells who homered 4 times in 3 games, which puts him on pace for 216 homeruns. Barry Bonds is rolling over in his BALCO lab.
The Orioles, meanwhile, have to hope that some home cooking helps get the bats going. The O’s have struggled to score runs despite slugging 12 extra base hits(8 doubles, 4 homers) in their first 3 games. The problem is that the O’s hit just .188 with runner in scoring position in Tampa. The Orioles either need to get some runners on base in front of the power bats, or string their hits together more consistently. Fortunately, the Orioles will face the back-end of the Blue Jays rotation in the first two games of the series, which could mean a few eruptions from the Birds.
The question is, can the starting rotation deliver some more solid outings. Orioles starters were not spectacular in Tampa, and they need to work deeper in games, but they gave the O’s the chance to win every game of the opening series. The Blue Jays have a few top notch bats like, the aforementioned, Wells, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind, but there are holes in the Jays lineup. The Blue Jays should struggle to score runs consistently this year and should present fewer problems to Orioles hurlers than the Rays did.
I expect the O’s to grab at least 2 of 3 this weekend. To do so the Orioles will have to settle a volatile back end of the bullpen. Mike Gonzalez has been shaky at best in his first 2 appearances and Jim Johnson struggled in his last outing. Couple that with some concern over a muscle strain in Johnson’s right arm and there is already case to be concerned about the 8th and 9th innings.
Here are your probable starters:
Brandon Morrow v. Brad Bergesen, 3:05 pm
Dana Eveland v. David Hernandez, 7:05 pm
Shaum Marcum (0-0,3.86) v. Kevin Millwood (0-0, 3.60), 1:35 pm