Right now, the Orioles seem to be doing a pretty decent job putting the bat on the ball. You’d never know this if you followed O’s fans on Twitter, as they live and die with every pitch, but Baltimore’s offense seems to be gelling and carrying their subpar starting pitching through the first 19 games of the season.
Tonight, they face a very unique challenge — a knuckleballer. R.A. Dickey takes the bump for his fifth starter with the Toronto Blue Jays against the O’s who have won four of their last five games. The Birds faced Dickey during Interleague play last season and the results weren’t pretty. Wilson Betemit recorded the O’s only hit in a complete game shutout in which Dickey recorded 13 strikeouts and surrendered just two walks.
After seeing the ball dance out of Dickey’s hand, Baltimore’s offense fell into a nasty slump. Adam Jones entered their O’s-Mets matchup on June 18 batting .307/.356/.577 on the year, he hit .250/.250/.400 over his next ten games. J.J. Hardy hit .143/.143/.262 over his next ten games after facing Dickey and Chris Davis hit .200/.222/.400 during that same span.
The Orioles were shutout by the Mets in the finale of their three game series on June 19 and would fail to score more than three runs until June 29. They would go on to lose nine of their next 12 games.
Sorry for being a Debbie Downer, I’m just a bit concerned about the damage Dickey could do to the O’s offense.
However, the optimist in me thinks that Dickey isn’t pitching like the Cy Young award winner he was a year ago. He looked solid against the White Sox on April 18 (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K), but has struggled with walks and pitch location over his first four outings.
A cold night in Baltimore might be just what the Orioles need. If Dickey isn’t able to get a good grip on the ball it may dance a little less than he’s hoping.