Game 93: Rangers (53-38) @ Orioles (50-42), 7:05

Jonathan Ernst

The Orioles come into Thursday's game with a chance to salvage a series split against Texas, if they can triumph over the immortal Ross Wolf.

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As bad as the first two games of this series felt, in the grand scheme of things, the Orioles salvaging a series split against a playoff contender like the Rangers would not be the worst thing in the world. Of course, the first thing they would need to do is win tonight, thus ensuring that split. Otherwise, panic will ensue, everything will be terrible, and the season will be completely over.

Helping the O's tonight - and making a win even more imperative - is the fact that rather than facing Yu Darvish, who's headed to the disabled list, they will instead be facing Ross Wolf, who was once traded by the O's in order to acquire Jake Fox. He is not the sort of guy who matters much, but he's having a nice year in relief for Texas, with a 1.95 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched. He has made one start, and also pitched 6.2 innings in relief in an 18-inning game where he took the loss in the 18th.

It is an emergency start for Wolf tonight, and this is the sort of thing the Orioles need to take advantage of. Also, Wolf throws with his right hand, meaning their usual kryptonite is not in effect. On the other hand, emergency starters could be their kryptonite in general. He throws a change-up. Prepare for the no-hitter.

Miguel Gonzalez gets the start for the Orioles. Is it just me, or can you almost feel vaguely good about the O's rotation now that Wei-Yin Chen is back? There's Gonzalez, Chen, Tillman... never mind.

Home run-hitting Texas could be a bad matchup for Gonzalez. He has faced the Rangers once, in August of last year in Arlington. Different team, different year, but he did not give up a home run then. So that's something.

If it was possible to have a rotation of five players with Gonzalez's 2013 averages, then O's starters would have thrown an additional 54.2 IP on the season with an ERA 1.17 points lower than what they actually sport. That means they would have allowed fewer total runs while throwing more innings and saving the bullpen, particularly from appearances by less reliable relievers.

I like Gonzalez. Let's hope he doesn't suck tonight. Tampa Bay and New York have already won in afternoon games, and Boston is losing in Seattle as this post is being written. Win to keep pace and/or gain ground, same as every night. They have not been doing this so far in July. Time to fix that.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES TEXAS RANGERS
Nate McLouth - LF Ian Kinsler - DH
Manny Machado - 3B Elvis Andrus - SS
Nick Markakis - RF Nelson Cruz - RF
Adam Jones - CF Adrian Beltre - 3B
Chris Davis - 1B A.J. Pierzynski - C
Matt Wieters - C Mitch Moreland - 1B
J.J. Hardy - SS Jurickson Profar - 2B
Brian Roberts - 2B David Murphy - LF
Nolan Reimold - DH Leonys Martin - CF

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