I want to start out by saying that I went 12-4 picking against the spread in NFL games, which means I'll probably go 2-14 this weekend.
Dallas rallied last night for my 12th win. I was hesitant to take a team whose quarterback was playing with cracked ribs and a punctured lung, but then I thought, "What the heck?"
I mentioned last night that Adam Jones had the last Orioles inside-the-park home run until Robert Andino circled the bases against Josh Beckett. Jones' unique four-bagger happened last year in Washington, and as a few of you remembered, it included Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan spiking his glove after assuming that he tipped the ball over the fence. One of the oddest moments that I've witnessed in baseball.
Beckett lost back-to-back starts against the Orioles for the first time in his career. His 7.03 ERA against the Orioles is his highest against any American League team this season.
The Orioles have won five of the last seven games against the Red Sox, who are attracting quite a national following because of their epic collapse. Lots of media types from outside Baltimore and Boston were taking up space in the press box last night.
The Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Rays in the wild card standings on Sept. 4. Now the two teams are tied.
Need another interesting angle (not Matt) to tonight's game? Former Oriole Erik Bedard will pitch for the Red Sox in perhaps the biggest start of his career.
Bedard lasted only 2 2/3 innings against the Orioles on Sept. 20.
Rookie Zach Britton makes his final start tonight. He's 6-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 13 games at Camden Yards, including nine quality starts. He's surrendered eight earned runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Red Sox. Seven of those runs came in two-thirds of an inning in a July 8 start at Fenway Park.
The Orioles have been successful in 32 of their last 37 stolen base attempts since Aug. 26. Vladimir Guerrero swiped his second base this season last night after passing Julio Franco to become the all-time hits leader among Dominican-born players.
Guerrero is batting .360 with six doubles and two home runs in his last 22 games.
Jacoby Ellsbury has a 34-game hitting streak against the Orioles dating back to April 17, 2009, the longest streak ever by an opponent. He's hitting .430 with seven homers and 22 RBIs during the streak.
Is Ellsbury the AL's MVP this season?
Troy Patton retired all five batters he faced last night after replacing starter Tommy Hunter. He threw 21 pitches 15 for strikes.
Patton hasn't allowed a run in eight of his last 10 appearances. He's walked three and struck out 22 in 27 2/3 innings this season.
Hunter served up a home run to Jed Lowrie in the fourth inning.
Was it a good pitch?
"It couldn't have been that good of a pitch," Hunter replied.
Hunter also was asked whether Baltimore is a good fit for him.
"Definitely," he said. "It's a young team. I'm not very old myself. It's a young core. Your backstop's 24, 25. Your center fielder is 26. You've got guys in J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds wrapped up. Another year, you never know what can happen."
After allowing his first run as an Oriole Saturday night - blowing the save against the Tigers, but getting the win - Pedro Strop ran into more trouble last night. He replaced Clay Rapada with a runner on first and one out in the eighth inning and loaded the bases by issuing a walk and giving up a single. However, Strop made another favorable impression on manager Buck Showalter by striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a curveball and retiring Marco Scutaro on a grounder to short.
Scutaro was batting ninth, but he's no easy mark. He's hitting .376 this month.
Luke Scott visited the clubhouse yesterday. His surgically repaired right shoulder is no longer immobilized and he's feeling much better.
Scott went deer hunting back home. He isn't a switch-hitter, but he can shoot with both arms.
I'm still trying to figure out how Showalter injured his ankle while walking the lineup card to home plate.
Asked if he's day to day, Showalter replied, "I'm minute to minute."
Aren't we all?