Predictions and tonight’s starting pitcher

I’ve got two predictions for you today.

1. Someone will report that Nick Markakis underwent “successful surgery” on his thumb. As opposed to all those unsuccessful surgeries that players endure each year.

Unless the thumb falls off, it’s going to be successful. Dr. Brian Schofield will insert a T-plate and Markakis will be resting comfortably. And then we’ll wait to find out whether the Orioles make the playoffs and he’s healthy enough to contribute. Apparently, a realistic goal is the second round.

2. Nate McLouth won’t bat leadoff tonight.

McLouth moved to the top spot on Sunday, but manager Buck Showalter reminded reporters that the Rays are starting left-hander Matt Moore tonight. He told everyone to “stay tuned.”

Will it be Robert Andino? Lew Ford?

Stay tuned.

It’s worth noting that left-handers are hitting .268 against Moore, compared to .234 by right-handers.

Matt Wieters is 4-for-7 with two homers and two walks against Moore. Adam Jones is 4-for-9.

I’ve got my own suspicions on which player will come off the 40-man roster to make room for Endy Chavez, but I’ll keep it to myself. I hate to be the grim reaper and I hate to be wrong. I’ll let you know if I had the right player in mind. You’ll need to trust me.

Jason Hammel is working on normal rest tonight. Showalter didn’t push him back following the off day.

Hammel’s ERA is 5.57 in nine starts on four days rest (24 walks, 54 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings), 1.05 in seven starts on five days (nine walks, 47 strikeouts in 43 innings) and 3.00 in three starts on six-plus days.

By the way, left-handers are batting .207 against Hammel, compared to .272 by right-handers.

Hammel has posted a 1.89 ERA in the first inning.

The good news for the Orioles in this series is they won’t face James Shields, who was named the American League’s co-Player of the Week. The bad news is they’ll face center fielder B.J. Upton, who was named the American League’s co-Player of the Week.

Mark Reynolds also was given consideration after batting .292 with five homers and 10 RBIs.

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