Why the Orioles must win today

Of course, there's no such thing as a must-win game in April, and -- for that matter -- there hasn't been a must-win game involving the Orioles in a long time, but today's series finale against the Los Angeles Angels is one of those games that can make a difference in a team's self-esteem.

The Orioles were flying high when they left Chicago on Thursday night. They had won five of seven games on a long, tough first road trip. If you had asked me or any other objective observer at the outset if I would have considered a 5-5 road trip a success, I probably would have signed up for that, but the baseball season is a fluid thing and there are moments when you can't settle for what you originally would have settled for.

The O's need to win because they shouldn't go home 5-5 after starting out 5-2. They need to win because they should not have looked so much like the 2011 midseason Orioles on Saturday night. They need to win because Angels starter Dan Haren is beatable and a 6-4 finish on the trip would be uplifting while a 5-5 finish (which would leave the O's with a .500 overall record) would be a big letdown.

If you want to get more specific, the Orioles need to have a solid pitching effort and they must play major league defense today. That probably means Buck Showalter will have to sacrifice some offense and play Ryan Flaherty at third and use Wilson Betemit as the DH, but since he doesn't let me make out the lineup card, we'll wait and see.

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