The Orioles will welcome the Cleveland Indians to town this evening to begin play in the second half of the season. Tonight's game will open a four-game series with the Tribe, and a ten-game homestand. Luckily for the O's they're playing .500 ball at home; we all know how the last road trip went. However all is not lost, as the players have now had a few days to rest and relax, which sometimes does wonders. Most teams' attitudes during the all-star break are get out of town and forget about baseball for the most part. As you might have noticed, your humble correspondent also took the opprotunity to do that, although I've been in a hotel on Charles St. in the Inner Harbor all week.
However enough about me...Jeremy Guthrie will get the start tonight as the O's get ready to see what the rest of the season brings. For the skeptics out there who are saying that it's going to be an absolute disater similar to the final 2-3 weeks of the first half, you might be right for all I know. However remember the rest and relaxation concept I wrote about above? We've all come to points in our lives where we've been burned out. I'm not big on the psychological aspect of sports because I've always believed that you simply come to the park each day and try to win a game. However each game seemed to bring more and more misfortune for the O's as time went on in that final couple of weeks. MASN's Gary Thorne even commented in Boston last week that the O's were wound extremely tight, which was forcing more mistakes. So one can only hope that since the guys have been away for a few days and had their minds cleared, things might improve in that regard.
There's still the issue of the pitching staff, although everyone now has had a few days' rest. In saying that I'm refering mostly to the bullpen, which was used far more often than one would have liked in that final push. The starting pitching is in theory in shambles. While Guthrie gets the nod tonight (and we all know what his track record is with regard to run support), Jake Arrieta goes tomorrow, Alfredo Simon on Saturday, and Sunday's starter is TBD at the moment. After Saturday's game Simon will also be leaving the team to tend to some legal matters in the Dominican Republic regarding his murder/manslaughter trial. Therefore the O's might have the opprotunity of making a roster move prior to Sunday's game depending upon how they want to handle Simon's absence. Could that mean that someone from the minors (Chris Tilman perhaps) might make the start? Or will they go with Mitch Atkins again? All in due course...
The Orioles will also potentially find out today how many players (and possibly manager Buck Showalter) will be suspended in the wake of last weekend's fireworks in Boston. Presumably the players will all appeal their suspensions which would allow them to play until a final ruling has been made. My best guess is that Kevin Gregg and Michael Gonzales will be the ones affected. I wouldn't be surprised to see Buck Showalter get a game or two either. Nevertheless as I said the Indians roll into town tonight, and they're playing the kind of baseball that we thought we'd see from the Birds this season. Let's reverse that, starting tonight.