Hot off the heals of their series win over Seattle, featuring a matinee game that was easily the team’s most dramatic victory of the year, the Orioles are taking on the Cleveland Indians (13-19) at The Yard this weekend. After a brutal April, The Birds need to win winnable series against Cleveland and Kansas City if they are to claw their way to respectability and end comparisons to the ’88 squad.
Let’s take a look at this weekend’s matchups.
Friday at 7:05pm: Justin Masterson (0-3, 5.23 ERA) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (1-4, 4.67 ERA)
Guts earned his first win of the year last week in frigid Minneapolis, giving up three runs. The long ball has been his problem, and he gave up two of them in his last performance. Cleveland has struggled at the plate this season, with Sin Soo-Choo leading the team in dingers with a whopping total of four. Travis Hafner, whose stat line reads like a cautionary tale against steroids, is hitting .237 with 3 homers. Will the Indian bats come alive against Guthrie, or can the O’s help Justin Masterson continue his winless season?
Bold Prediction: Orioles 7, Indians 4
Bonus Prediction: Alfredo Simon will come on for his sixth saving, loading the bases without surrendering a run, thereby earning the likely stat line of a WHIP over 2 and an ERA of 0.00.
Saturday at 7:05pm: Mitch Talbot (4-2, 3.43 ERA) vs. Brian Matusz (2-3, 4.91 ERA)
It’s a battle of the rookies as Mitchell Julius Talbot III takes on Brian Matusz. Talbot sports an impressive ERA at the moment, and he allegedly has four pitches that he can get over. Matusz is coming off his worst performance in ’10. He was pulled from last Sunday’s game in the fourth inning after giving up six runs. Still, look for a low-scoring affair at The Yard Saturday night, on a day in which The Birds will share the athletic spotlight with men who weigh 105 lbs and jam band O.A.R.
Prediction: Orioles 3, Indians 1
Bonus Prediction: Sideline reporter Amber Theoharris will give a mid-game update from the dugout in which she talks about the way the clubhouse feels “less tense” and “looser” and that the team is “starting to have more fun” since the Orioles began racking up a few wins. Jim Palmer will respond with a four part answer, citing several personal anecdotes, that can be summarized as “obviously.” Brian Matusz will strike out the side without a single broadcaster mentioning the game until he begins walking off the field.
Sunday at 1:35pm: Jake Westbrook (1-2, 5.06 ERA) vs. Hernandez (0-5, 5.84 ERA)
When two starting pitchers have ERAs over five, the ensuing matchup could include a few long innings. Look for a slug-fest in the matinee series finale Sunday afternoon. Westbrook is still trying to rebound from surgery. He’s coming off his first win of the season. Hernandez has had some bad luck, but obviously some bad performances as well. You don’t get to an ERA nearing six simply through bad luck. I predict a high-scoring affair in which Hernandez earn the “W” but still manages to remind people that he is more suited for late-inning relief.
Bold Prediction: Orioles 8, Indians 7.5
Bonus Prediction: Several of my facebook friends will write an inane update that says, “sweeeeeeep” give or take a few letters.