How many people turned off Saturday's game as soon as starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera surrendered six runs in the top of the first inning?
I've got to admit that I was in that crowd. I missed the six runs in the third inning by the Orioles and the two clutch home runs – a game-tying shot by catcher Ramon Hernandez to lead off the ninth inning and a game-winning one by left fielder Luke Scott in the 10th inning. The Orioles definitely picked the perfect night to distribute copies of the Orioles Magic DVD to the fans.
With a chance to win three games against the Detroit Tigers, the Orioles decided not to break their Sunday tradition of losing games. Even the decision to wear the orange batting practice jerseys didn't bring a victory to the Orioles. Detroit's Justin Verlander showed why he's been one of the best pitchers in the major leagues over the past two seasons. He has now won six consecutive decisions. Although he was 2-9 before that streak, you shouldn't be surprised if Verlander finishes the season with at least 15 victories.
The Orioles will now take on the Toronto Blue Jays for four games beginning on Monday. Do you think Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston will be signing any autographs? I have a nice shirt from the 1993 All-Star Game that I'd really like to get signed. That's a pretty bad joke, but how many people still despise Gaston for not pitching Mike Mussina in the game at Camden Yards?
After losing two straight games, the Blue Jays picked up a 9-4 victory in the finale of the three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. They are currently 48-50 and 1/2 game ahead of the Orioles at the bottom of the American League East.
Probable pitching matchups
Monday 7/21: Radhames Liz (3-2, 7.57) vs. Jesse Litsch (8-6, 4.16)
Tuesday 7/22: Garrett Olson (6-4, 5.65) vs. Brian Tallet (0-1, 3.19)
Wednesday 7/23: Jeremy Guthrie (6-7, 3.60) vs. A.J. Burnett (10-9, 4.84)
Thursday 7/24: Daniel Cabrera (6-5, 4.57) vs. Roy Halladay (11-7, 2.89)
Who you should play from the Blue Jays
Alex Rios, OF – It's pretty much a guarantee that Rios will hit the ball extremely well against the Orioles during the four-game series. He is 10-for-31 with one home run and 11 RBIs in eight games against them this season. In 74 career games against the Orioles, Rios is hitting .287 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs. Rios is hitting .319 (15-for-47) with one home run, 12 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 11 games this month. He'll continue to put up solid numbers, so make sure he's in your starting lineup until further notice.
Who you should bench from the Blue Jays
A.J. Burnett, RHP – Burnett has made eight career starts against the Orioles. He is 6-1 in those games, but his ERA is 5.26. Burnett pitched against the Orioles twice so far this season. In 9 2/3 innings during those two games, he allowed 15 runs and 17 hits. He had 12 strikeouts in those two starts, but that's not enough to put him in your lineup for his scheduled start on Wednesday. The Orioles have been hitting the ball pretty well lately, so you should hold him out of your lineup for this start or your team ERA may jump significantly.
Who you should play from the Orioles
Melvin Mora, 3B – Mora has been hitting the ball well since the All-Star break, even though he was 0-for-3 in the series finale against the Tigers. He was 6-for-15 with three home runs, seven RBIs and five runs scored in the series. Mora still shouldn't be considered a reliable fantasy option, but he might be worth a look in deep leagues if he continues playing well. Consider grabbing him if you need a short-term solution at third base. Just be sure to cut him loose and forget this suggestion if he starts struggling again.
Who you should bench from the Orioles
Nick Markakis, RF – You shouldn't be sitting Markakis if he's on your fantasy team, but you should be aware that he hasn't been that valuable recently. In his past eight games, Markakis is 5-for-27 with only two RBIs and four runs scored. Markakis could be the reason why you lost a few categories in last week's head-to-head matchup by a close margin. Like I said, that's really the only reason he's listed here. There's no need to panic because he'll turn it around soon enough.