Game 162: Orioles (93-68) @ Rays (89-72), 7:10pm

Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Orioles need to win tonight's game to guarantee one home playoff game at the worst.

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My dear Camden Chatters. My dear (here there is a long, rambling list of every Camden Chatter - yes, even you). Also my good lurkers that I welcome back at last to Camden Chat. Today is the one hundred sixty-second game of the season. It is one hundred sixty-two today! I hope you are all enjoying yourselves as much as I am.

I shall not keep you long. I have called you all together for a purpose. Indeed, for three purposes! First of all, to tell you that I am immensely fond of you all, and that one hundred sixty-two games is too short a time to blog among such excellent and admirable Orioles fans. I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. Secondly, to celebrate my final regular season game thread of the year. I should say, OUR final regular season game thread of the year, for it is, of course, also the last regular season Orioles game for you as well.

It is also, if I should be allowed to refer to ancient history, two years and two months anniversary since the arrival of Buck Showalter as manager - though the fact that would be so significant slipped my mind at the time. We were 32-73 then, and individual game threads did not seem so important. The game thread was very splendid, however, though I had a bad cold at the time, I remember, and could only say 'thag you very buch'. I now repeat it more correctly: Thank you very much for coming to my little game thread, night in and night out.

Thirdly and finally, I wish to make an announcement. I regret to announce that - though, as I said, one hundred sixty-two games is far too short a time to spend among you - this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. Good-bye!

***

No, you're not actually getting rid of me that easily. But that's how I started the game thread the last two years, and I'm not getting in the way of my own tradition. I made a couple of modifications to the text this year, seeing as how the Orioles do not suck, and this is not the final game thread of the year. How cool is that? I haven't gotten over how cool it is yet.

There are still stakes for this final game, much as there were last year - and this year the stakes involve the Orioles themselves. If they win, the worst that will happen is they host the wild card game on Friday. If they lose, they will be going on the road to face either Oakland or Texas.

The hopes for that win rest on Chris Tillman's shoulders - as the hopes for a Yankees loss rest on Daisuke Matsuzaka's shoulders. I know who I am counting on more out of the two of them. You might wonder why not save Tillman for a potential playoff game? The answer is that winning the division is so worth it to Buck, he wants his best available pitcher tonight. That is Tillman. Deal with the rest tomorrow (if needed) or Friday, when all hands can be on deck.

Orioles hitters will be facing off against Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays. One thing we can be fairly sure of (though nothing is ever entirely certain) is that Hellickson will not pitch as well as James Shields did last night. That doesn't mean that the O's will win the game. Maybe he will pitch worse - give up more hits, strike out fewer guys - and still manage to shut out the Orioles. Maybe he will get lit up like a Christmas tree. That would be good.

All I can tell you is that the Orioles must win to truly bring playoff baseball back to Baltimore - not just to have a team qualify for the playoffs but to actually have a playoff game guaranteed to be played in Baltimore. They can do it, certainly. They have showed us all year the ways in which they can. Hopefully that means that tonight, at the end of the line, they will continue to show us.


Lineup

BALTIMORE ORIOLES TAMPA BAY RAYS
Nate McLouth - LF B.J. Upton - CF
J.J. Hardy - SS Ben Zobrist - SS
Chris Davis - RF Evan Longoria - 3B
Adam Jones - CF Matt Joyce - RF
Matt Wieters - C Ryan Roberts - 2B
Jim Thome - DH Carlos Pena - 1B
Mark Reynolds - 1B Sam Fuld - LF
Ryan Flaherty - 2B Stephen Vogt - DH
Manny Machado - 3B Chris Gimenez - C

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