Game 159: Red Sox (69-89) @ Orioles (91-67), 1:35pm

Greg Fiume - Getty Images

The Orioles need a win against Zach Stewart of the Red Sox to stay up top in the final home game of the season.

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Here we are at the final home game of the regular season for the Baltimore Orioles. It's not a sure thing yet, but it is looking likely that this will not be the final game played at Camden Yards this year. If the division ends in a tie, the one-game playoff would be at Camden Yards. If they stay ahead of Oakland but lose the division, a wild card game would be at Camden Yards, and if they win the division, at least game 3 of the ALDS is guaranteed to be played at Camden Yards. Got your tickets? Yeah... me either.

The magic number for the Orioles to clinch a playoff spot is 2 games. That's 2 Orioles wins or 2 Angels losses, or one of each. And as it turns out, the Angels are playing two games today in Texas. If the O's win and the Angels lose the opening game, they could know they have clinched before getting on the plane to Tampa Bay. That is, of course, if the Orioles win.

When you look at a late-September game against a last-place team that is starting a pitcher in Zach Stewart who has a 7.91 ERA in 2012, that is the game the contending team needs to win. The Red Sox players won't necessarily see it that way, of course. Some are playing for contracts and some are playing for a future in the organization, or even in baseball. Or perhaps for some it is simply pride, not wanting an ignominious end to a season that saw their manager label them a bunch of untalented scrubs - although he was telling the truth.

Then again, maybe they'd like to lose to either stick it to that manager, or to the Yankees.

Starting for the Orioles today is Joe Saunders. I've got to be honest, I still don't know how I feel about that. It doesn't seem like a thing I should even have to feel. What are the Orioles doing with a Joe Saunders? I don't know, but he's here and he's starting today, and you might note that the starter for today's game is lined up to start on regular rest if there were to be a Wild Card game being played. Does that make Saunders the wild card starter? Not necessarily, but it would be his turn in the rotation.

I made this comment in the Toronto series several times and I will make it again today: if you want to be a contending team, you'd damn well better beat the likes of Stewart with four games left to play. There is no negotiation on this point. You beat the guy with the 6.55 career big-league ERA. But no looking ahead to Tampa Bay and definitely no looking ahead to the playoffs, because you need to beat this clown to get there. Why would you beat a clown, you might ask? I read Stephen King's IT, okay. Pennywise is freaky.


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