Well, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, right? Today the Orioles face one of the American League's best on opening day in Tampa Bay lefty David Price. He went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA last year and won the AL Cy Young Award in a close vote over Justin Verlander.
He was the first AL East pitcher to win the award since Boston's Pedro Martinez in 2003.
Price was dominant against the Orioles last season, going 2-0 with a 0.40 ERA, allowing just one run and 13 hits in 22 1/3 innings. In his career, over 12 starts, he is 6-2 with a 2.21 ERA against the Orioles.
Here are more stats on the pitcher the O's try to beat today:
* Price went 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA at home last season with a WHIP of 0.943.
* He allowed two earned runs or fewer in 23 of 31 starts last season.
* He allowed a slugging percentage of just .318 in 2012 to rank first in the AL.
* He is 33-11 with an ERA of 2.89 in his career against the AL East.
* He averaged 95.5 mph on his fastball on 2012, according to Fangraphs.
Price led the majors with 13 road wins in 2012. Only three pitchers had more in one season in the last 40 years in the AL, and two were Orioles. Jim Palmer had 14 in 1973 and Scott McGregor had 14 in 1983. Verlander had 14 in 2011.
The lineup the Orioles will send out today has had very little collective success against Price. The group is batting just .230 (34-for-148) with no homers and 14 RBIs. Price has given up just three career homers to the Orioles over 81 1/3 innings.
Jason Hammel takes the mound for Baltimore after going 8-6 with an ERA of 3.43 in 20 starts last year. He had an ERA of 3.18 in two ALDS starts against New York.
Hammel was better against lefty batters last season (.203 average against) than right-handed hitters (.266).
He got off to a great start, allowing two earned runs or fewer in each of his first six 2012 starts, and he went 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA in five starts last April.
So it's time to start the new season. Feel free to leave comments and questions here in this blog all during today's game and I'll add some notes during the game as well.
Happy opening day everybody!
Yes, they can: The Orioles scored more runs with one Matt Wieters swing in the top of the first today than they had scored all of last year over 22 1/3 innings against Price. They got just one run then and took a 2-0 lead today on Wieters' blast to left.
The Orioles lineup today had a combined zero career homers against Price over 151 at-bats before Wieters connected. Price had allowed just three career homers over 81 1/3 frames against the O's before today.
Playing it cool at the hot corner: How about the defense at third base today by both Manny Machado and Evan Longoria? They are both putting on quite a show. Longoria threw out Adam Jones from his knees after a nice stop in the top of the fifth.
The Orioles are 37-22 all-time on opening day by the way, winning nine of their last 12. They are 3-2 when they open against Tampa Bay.
The RISP stat: Since getting a two-run homer from Wieters with Jones on second in the top of the first, the O's are 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position against Price and 1-for-8 on the game. They got leadoff doubles in the fourth and sixth but couldn't score or even advance the runners. We'll see if missed opportunities comes back to haunt them today.
Explosion in the seventh: The Orioles exploded for a quick five runs in the top of the seventh for a 7-3 lead after they had fallen behind 3-2 in the last of the sixth. The uprising included a two-run double by Jones and three-run homer by Chris Davis. It came off Jake McGee, who gave up 13 runs all of last year and never more than three in a single outing.