The Orioles are preparing for only their fourth home game of the 2013 season. They can be excused if they accidentally head to the visiting clubhouse and wait to take batting practice after their opponent.
The Tampa Bay Rays were able to fly out of Boston last night following the bombings that killed at least three people and injured several more, another senseless act of violence that peels away the layers of comfort and security in our daily lives.
Rays manager Joe Maddon sent the following tweet last night: “Just landed safely in Baltimore. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims & the families affected by this afternoon’s horrible event”
Exactly one week ago, the Orioles lined up along the third base line as part of the Red Sox’s opening day festivities at Fenway Park. Their hotel wasn’t far from yesterday’s explosions, maybe a block or two. There’s no way to fully come to grips with this tragedy, to understand why it happened, and it serves as another painful reminder of 9/11.
The Orioles won’t provide full details of the added security measures that they’re taking for tonight’s game. That would be counterproductive. But police officials told The Sun yesterday that fans may notice tactical officers deployed outside the ballpark. They will have a presence at Camden Yards.
When the focus shifts between the white lines, it will be draped around Orioles starter Jake Arrieta, who really could use a quality outing.
Arrieta has logged five innings in each of his two starts this year. He’s allowed eight runs and 10 hits, with six walks and seven strikeouts, and he’d really like to take some of the air out of that 7.20 ERA.
Arrieta is seeking the consistency that will make him an established major leaguer, and not just start to start. I’m talking inning to inning. He’s gotten three easy outs, then labored, three easy outs, then labored. And the struggles occur when he can’t throw strike one.
The top three starters - Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez - are here for the long haul. Chris Tillman has a long leash because he’s out of options. Arrieta can be sent down, so the ground beneath his feet is shaky.
The Orioles will be patient, but only up to a point. They didn’t sign Jair Jurrjens and Freddy Garcia to hold down two spots in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation for the entire summer. They haven’t given up on Zach Britton. Steve Johnson is nearing an injury rehab assignment, and they haven’t forgotten what he did last year as a rookie.
There’s also a kid at Double-A Bowie named Kevin Gausman. Maybe you’ve heard of him.
Arrieta is 2-3 with a 5.88 ERA in seven career games against the Rays. He’s allowed 29 hits in 33 2/3 innings, with 19 walks and 24 strikeouts.
Again, you’d like to see a bigger gap between those walks and strikeouts.
Last season, Arrieta was 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA in three appearances (two starts) against the Rays.
Yunel Escobar is 7-for-16 with a home run against Arrieta. Matt Joyce is 5-for-12 with a double, home run and four RBIs.
Down on the farm, Russ Canzler went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in Norfolk’s 5-4, 11-inning loss at Gwinnett. Canzler, who started at third base, is hitting .348 with 12 RBIs.
Danny Valencia, starting at first base, hit his first home run and is batting .310.
Jonathan Schoop, playing shortstop, went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts to lower his average to .128. He also committed his fourth error.
Notes: The Orioles are wearing No. 42 tonight to honor Jackie Robinson, since they were off yesterday.
Each player’s authenticated game-worn and autographed No. 42 jersey will be auctioned at www.orioles.com to benefit the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The auction begins tonight at 7 p.m. and ends April 23 at midnight. To date, the Orioles have raised $45,000 for the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
In addition, MLB.com will be auctioning off a team autographed No. 42 jersey at www.mlb.com/42jersey to benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
The Orioles will honor a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar in a special pregame ceremony. Brittany Thomas, a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Public Health Studies and Global Environmental Change and Sustainability, will be presented with a No. 42 jersey by outfielder Adam Jones and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Thomas is one of over a thousand young men and women who were able to attend college thanks to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Major League Baseball and the Orioles.
The Orioles will hold a moment of silence before tonight’s game in honor of the victims of yesterday’s tragedy in Boston and two longtime fans who recently passed away.
Matt Hersl, who died when he was struck by a car on April 9, was a season plan holder and a frequent visitor for Orioles batting practice, as well as events throughout the region. Tommy Conelius, who passed away from cancer on Feb. 15, was a longtime Orioles season ticket holder who could be seen sitting in front of the press box at nearly every home game as well as at area events.