Will the Orioles take a big bite out of the Big Apple?

Or will they find a worm?

The Orioles are back on the road, with three games in New York and three in Boston over a seven-day period that will further test their resolve. And their rotation. And their lineup. And their bullpen. And their depth.

Jason Hammel will have another chance tonight to silence his critics - the ones who thought he'd get eaten alive in the insatiable American League East. He's 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in four outings. He's posted quality starts in three of them.

Hammel hasn't faced the Yankees since 2008, and maybe that's a good thing. He's 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in 11 career games, including five starts. He's got a 1.76 WHIP and they're batting .322 against him.

But that was the other Jason Hammel. Not the one who's apparently got it all figured out now, the one with the sinker that causes batters to beat the ball into the ground, the one with 17 strikeouts in his last 13 innings.

Alex Rodriguez is hoping that Hammel hasn't changed that much, since he's 6-for-15 with four homers and nine RBIs lifetime against him.

Over the last six games, Oriole starters have allowed nine earned runs in 45 innings for a 1.80 ERA.

The Orioles don't have much experience facing right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. Mark Reynolds, who shined at first base yesterday, is 4-for-21 (.190) with nine strikeouts against him. No other current Oriole has more than three at-bats against him (J.J. Hardy and Ronny Paulino are 0-for-3.)

Does manager Buck Showalter ignore the numbers and give Reynolds another start at first?

Executive vice president Dan Duquette is pushing for the club to improve its infield defense, which is why he signed Bill Hall to a minor league deal and had some interest in Brandon Inge. Reynolds' glove work at first yesterday must have brought some appeal.

By the way, Hall hit his first home run yesterday for Triple-A Norfolk after going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in his debut. He tweeted that he's finally getting comfortable at the plate and the ball's finding the barrel of his bat, so stay tuned.

As for Reynolds, tonight will be his last chance to hit a home run in April. He's never gone through the month without one.

But enough of my rambling. I'm going to board my train for New York and check back with you later.

blog comments powered by Disqus