I'm trying to remember the last time that a series between the Orioles and Athletics had the potential to influence the playoff picture.
Jim Palmer may have been matched up against Catfish Hunter.
Tonight, you'll have to settle for Zach Britton vs. Jarrod Parker, followed by Tommy Hunter vs. Bartolo Colon on Saturday and Wei-Yin Chen vs. Travis Blackley on Sunday.
The Orioles can enjoy the convenience of scouting Colon in their own backyard.
If they wanted to take another look at Jake Arrieta last night, his start for Triple-A Norfolk was rained out.
Other teams are paying attention to Arrieta, as well. He's a potential trade chip. And the Orioles understand that to get pitching, they'll have to part with pitching.
I talked to someone in the organization this week who agrees that Arrieta is the guy who most intrigues prospective trade partners among the young arms in the system that aren't attached to Dylan Bundy.
Tabbed as the opening day starter, he went 3-9 with a 6.13 ERA in 18 games before being optioned. He's 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts for Norfolk, with four runs and 13 hits allowed, four walks and 11 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.
Part of Arrieta's appeal to other organizations, as it's been explained to me, is his willingness to take instruction. He listens. He works hard. He's just underachieving this season.
Brian Graham, the Orioles coordinator of minor league instruction, offered positive reports on Arrieta and left-hander Brian Matusz yesterday while meeting with Showalter.
"He said things are going well with both of them, all things considered, and he thinks they'll be options for us if we have a need," Showalter said.
Of course, Showalter would prefer that the Orioles not have a need. He'd like to deflate the tires on that shuttle going back and forth between Baltimore and Norfolk.
"I think it's more about how the guys are pitching here and if there's a need here," he said. "I think where Zach made a lot of strides is when he realized that he wasn't on some rehab assignment. He was down there pitching to present himself as a first option to come back if we have a need."
Showalter naturally likes the idea of having depth at the Triple-A level. It can be used in different ways, including as part of a trade proposal.
Keep that in mind the next time Arrieta pitches.