If the Orioles are to win a big series today against another wild card contender, they will have to beat Detroit's Doug Fister, a pitcher on a real roll.
Fister is 7-7 with a 3.24 ERA through 18 starts this season. But over his last four games, he is 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA. In seven starts since the All-Star break, Fister is 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA and seven quality starts.
In those seven games, he has given up one earned run or less five times with a batting average against of .199. He has a 48-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 53 1/3 innings in the second half.
His strong second half began in Baltimore, where he beat the Orioles on July 13 in a game where he gave up just three hits and one run over seven innings, throwing 94 pitches. He didn't walk a batter and had eight strikeouts in that game, his only start this year vs. the Orioles.
Fister is a pitcher that doesn't walk many. He ranked third in the AL in fewest walks per nine innings in 2010 and fourth last year. He walks just 1.7 batters per nine frames this season and has issued one or no walks in 11 of his 18 starts in 2012.
In five career starts vs. the Orioles, the 28-year-old right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.94 ERA.
O's force Fister out of finale: Quite a comeback today by the Orioles, who fell behind 5-0 in the first inning, but just knocked Fister out of the game as they lead 7-5 in the fourth.
On his 30th birthday, Hardy ended a nine-game and 37 at-bat RBI drought.
The O's knocked Fister out with a three-run fourth frame that included a Nate McLouth two-run triple for a 6-5 lead and then an Adam Jones RBI single as the Orioles take a 7-5 lead to the last of the fourth.
I guess the person that wanted the McLouth "experiment" to end on my morning blog today feels a little better about him right now.