Tonight, the O's start a 3 game series against the Devil Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
It's an "important series", if a team headed nowhere can have such a thing.
Anyway, this series could show us a lot about the 2007 Baltimore Orioles. Can we write them off on May 8th, earlier than any recent losing season? Or will they surprise us with some sparse quality play every now and then?
They're facing some tough TB pitchers that have given them trouble in the past, in James Shields (3-0, 3.74 ERA) and LHP Corey Fossum (2-2, 7.34 ERA), who needs to thank the Orioles for keeping him the league a few years longer than he should be. And after losing 11 out of their last 14 games, it would be a prime opportunity for the O's to shut down and allow the Rays to take the series or sweep them.
But if they show some signs of life against pitchers that routinely give them fits, then there could be some salvaging this season.
After all, if Jeremy Guthrie or Brian Burres pitch well while Jared Wright and Adam Loewen are injured, then at least the O's have found a bargain for basically free. It would be nice to add another decent starter to the list of hopefuls that already includes Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera, Adam Loewen, Hayden Penn and Garret Olson. After all, you can't have enough good young(er) pitching, because let's face it, Erik Bedard (age 28) ain't getting any younger.
The offense is bound to bounce back from their recent horrid slump, but don't expect too much from them over the course of a season. They simply aren't very good. And while the O's are taking their sweet-ass time in calling Jon Knott or J.R. House up to the big leagues, they must do it at some point. Right?
But what makes this series even more interesting, is to see if the Orioles can continue their streak of being worse than pretty much every team in the AL, except the Devil Rays.
Since joining the MLB in 1998, the Devil Rays haven't won more than 70 games. Even the Orioles have managed to stay ahead of them.
But the Devil Rays are clearly headed in a different direction than the Orioles. Even with all their pitching "talent", the Orioles still can't seem to get out of their own way. And while the Devil Rays still have poor pitching and a history of nothing but losing, they are finally reaping the benefits of a young and talented team. And if their pitching can reach mediocrity, they will make a surprising run that will open people's eyes for the first time in their 10 year history of ineptitude.
So as the O's take the field tonight, it could be one of the last times we do it as a better team than the Devil Rays.